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'Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni

'Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni

Translated by:

Faisal ibn Muhammad Shafeeq

INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC PUBLISHING HOUSE


International lslamic Publishing House, 2005
King Fahd National Ubrary Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Al-Qarni, Aaidh
Don't be sad. I Aaidh al-Q a r n i ; tr ans lated by Faisal ibn
Muhammad Shafeeq, - 2nd ed., - Riyadh, 2005

... p; 22 cm

ISBN Hard Cover: 9960-850-36-6


ISBN Soft Cover: 9960-850-44-7

1- Pr eaching - Islam 1-Faisal ibn Muhammad Shafeeq (trans.)


11-Title

213 de 1424/2926
1424/3980

ISBN Hard Cover: 9960-850-36-6 Legal Deposit no. 1424/2926


ISBN Soft Cover: 9960-850-44-7 Legal Deposit no. 1424/3980

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or


transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without written
permission from the Publisher.

International lslamic Publishing House (llPH)


P.O.Box 55195 Riyadh 11534, Saudi Arabia
Tel: 966 1 4650818 - 4647213 - Fax: 4633489
E-Mail: ilph@iiph.com.sa . www.iiph.com.sa

Please take part in this noble work


by conveying your comments to I/PH
through e-mail, fax or postal-mail address.
List of Contents

ABOUT THIS BOOK 18


PUBLISHER 'S NOTE 19
TRANSLATOR'S FOREWORD 21
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EDITION 24
O' Allah! 27
Contemplate and be thankful 28
The past is gone forever 30
Today is all that you have 31
Leave the future alone until it comes 33
How to deal with bitter criticism 34
Do not expect gratitude from anyone 35
Doing good to others gives comfort to the heart 37
Repel boredorn with work 38
Do not be a mimicker 39
Pre-ordainment 40
Verily, 1vith hardship, there is relief 41
Convert a lemon into a sweet drink 43
Is not He [betler than your gods]
Who responds to the distressed 44
Enough for you is your home 45
Your recompense is with Allah 46
Faith is life itself 47
Extract the honey but do not break the hive 49
Verily, in the remembrance of
Allah do hearts find rest 50
Or do they envy men for what Allah
has gi\en them of His Bounty? 52
Accept life as it is 53
6 List of Contents

Find consolation by remembering the afflicted 54


The prayer . . . the prayer 55
A llah [Alone} is sufficient for us, and He
is the best Disposer of ajfairs [for us} 56
Say [O ' Muhammad}: Trave! in the land. . . 58
Patience is most fitting 59
Do not cany the weight of the globe on your shoulders 60
Do not be crushed by what is insignificant 61
B e content with that which Allah has given
you and you will be the richest of people 63
Thus We have made you a just nation 66
Being sad i s not encouraged in our religion 67
Take a moment to reflect 72
Smile 73
Smile - Pause to ref lect 79
The blessing of pain 80
The b lessing of knowledge 83
The art of happin ess 84
The art of happiness - Pause to reflect 88
Controlling one's emotions 88
The bliss of the Prophet's Companions 90
Repel boredorn from your life 93
Cast off anxiety 95
Cast o.ff anxiety - Pause to reflect 98
Do not be sad - Everything will occur
according to pre-ordainment 1 02
Do not be sad - Wait patiently for a happy outcome I 04
Wait patiently for a happ_v outcome - Pause to reflect 1 05
Do not be sad: Seek forgiveness .fom Allah ofien,
for your Lord is Qft-Forgiving 1 06
Do not be sad - Always remember Allah 1 07
Don 't he Sad 7

Do not be sad - Never lose hope of Allah's mercy 1 09


Grieve not over unworthy things 111
Do not be sad - Repel anxiety 1 12
Grieve not when others blame and disparage you 1 14
Grieve not over being poor 1 14
Do not feel sad over fears for what may happen 1 15
Grieve not over criticism from the jealous
and the weak-minded 1 15
Stop to reflect 1 18
Do not be sad - Do good to others 121
Jealousy is not something new 1 24
Stop to reflect 1 25
Do not be sad from the want of ample provision 1 28
Appreciate that, compared to others, your trial is light 1 29
Do not mimic the personality of others 1 30
Isolation and its positive effects 131
Do not be shaken by hardships 1 33
Pause to think about hardships 1 34
Do not be sad - The fundamentals of happiness 1 35
Why grieve when you have the six ingredients ? 1 36
The fundamentals of happiness -
Verses upon which to refl.ect 1 38
Your best companion is a book 1 39
Sayings that deal with the virtues of books 1 40
The benefits of reading 14 1
Pause to re.flect 1 42
Do not grieve - There is another life to come 1 43
Do not feel overly stressed when work pi les up 1 44
Grieve not and ask yourself the foliowing questions 1 45
Do not despair when you face a difficult situation 1 45
Contemplate these verses 1 46
8 List <d' Contents

Depression weakens the body and the soul 1 47


Depression: A cause of ulcers 1 47
Some other effects of depression 1 47
What depression and anger do 1 48
Bear your hardships with serenity 1 49
Hold a good opinion of your Lord 1 49
When your thoughts wander 1 50
Embrace constructive criticism 1 50
Most rumors are baseless I 52
Gentleness averts confrontations 1 52
Yesterday will never return 1 53
This life does not deserve our grief 1 54
Pander these points 1 55
As long as you have faith in Allah, don 't be sad 1 56
Do not grieve over trivialities
for the entire world is trivial 1 58
This is how the world is 1 60
Strive to help others 1 60
Do not feel deprived as long as you have a loaf of
bread, a glass of water and clothes on your back 161
B lessings in disguise 161
You are created unique 162
Much that in appearance is harmful is in faet a blessing 1 65
Faith is the greatest remedy ! 1 67
Do not lose hope 1 68
Don 't be sad - L i fe is shorter than you think 169
As long as you h ave li fe 's basic necessities -
Don 't be sad 1 70
Contentment repels sadness 171
lf you lose a limb, you still have
others to compensate for it I 73
Don 't be Sad 9

The days rotate in bringing good and bad 1 74


Travel throughout Allah's wide earth 1 75
Contemplate these Prophetic sayings 1 76
In the last moments of li fe . . . 1 77
Do not let calamity shake you 1 78
D o not grieve - This world is not worth your grief 1 79
Don ' t be sad: Remember that you believe in Allah 1 79
Pause to reflect 1 80
Despair not - Handicaps do not prevent success 181
If you embrace Islam, there i s no reason
for you to be sad 1 82
Things that bring about happiness 1 85
The ingredients of happiness 1 86
You will not die before your appointed time 1 87
'O' Allah, Who is full of Majesty and H onor. " ' 1 88
Pause to reflect l 92
Steps to take if you are fearful of a jealous person 1 92
Good manners 1 93
Sleepless nights 1 93
The evil consequences of sinning 1 94
Strive for your sustenance, but don't be covetous 1 95
The secret of guidance 1 96
Ten gems for a good and noble life 1 97
Don 't be sad - Leam to deal with your reality 200
Don 't be sad - Sooner or later everything
in this world perishes 206
Depression leads to misery 206
Depression may lead to suicide 207
Asking Allah for forgiveness opens locked doors 212
People should depend on you , and not you on them 214
Prudence 215
10 List o{Contents

Do not cling to other than Allah 217


Doing those things that bring you peace 217
Pre-ordainment 219
The sweet taste of freedom 219
Dirt was the pillow of Sufyan ath-Thawri 220
Do not pay attention to the tell-tale 22 1
The curses of the foolish
are of no consequence to you 22 1
Appreciate the beauty of the universe 222
Avarice is of no avail 224
Bearing hardship atones for sins 224
A llah [Alone} is sufficient for us, and He is
the best Disposer of aff'airs [for us] 225
The ingredients of happiness 226
The fatigue and stress that come
with an important position 227
And come to the prayer 227
Charity brings peace to the giver 229
Don 't be angry 23 1
Supplications of the moming 232
Pause to reflect 233
The Qur'an : The blessed book 234
Don 't aspire to farne, or el se you will be
taxed with stress and worries 235
The good Iife 236
Bear trials patiently 237
Worship Allah by surrendering your will to Him 237
From being a govemor to becoming a carpenter 238
Mixing with people whose company is
heavy and dull ruins a person's peace 239
For the calamity-stricken 240
Don 't he Sad II

The positive effects of having true


Monotheistic faith in Allah 242
Take care of your outside as well as of your inside 246
Seek refuge with Allah 248
I place my complete trust in Him 249
They agree on three points 250
The wrongdoing of the transgressor 25 1
Khosrau and the old lady 252
A handicap in one area can be compensated
for by excellence in another 253
A few words about the foolish 257
Faith in Allah is the way to salvation 259
Even the disbelievers are at different level s 26 1
An iron will 263
The inbom disposition upon which we were created 264
Whatever is written for you will unerringly come to you 265
Work hard for the fruitful end 266
Your life is replete with priceless moments 270
Pause to reflect 274
Perfonning noble deeds is the way to happiness 275
Beneficial knowledge and fruitless knowledge 276
Read more, but with understanding and contemplation 278
Take account of yourself 279
Three mistakes that are common in our everyday lives 279
Plan your affairs and take proper precautions 280
Winning people over 281
Trave} to different lands 282
Perfonn the late-night voluntary prayers 2 82
Your reward is Paradise 283
True love 284
The shari'ah is made easy for you 286
12 ListofContents

Tranquility and p eace 287


Beware of ardent love 287
Same cures for ardent, unbridled love 289
The rights of brotherhood 290
Two secrets regarding sinning
(even if you know them, don't sin) 290
Seek out sustenance but don 't be covetous 29 1
Pause to reflect 292
A religion that is full of benefits 292
Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand 293
Stay away from the following four . . . 294
In order to find peace, tum to your Lord 294
Two great words of solace 295
Some of the positive effects of experiencing hardship 296
Knowledge 296
Happiness is a D ivine gift that does not
distinguish between the rich and the poor 297
Being remembered after death is a second life 297
Invoke Allah with the following 298
A Lord Who wrongs not 298
Write your own h istory 299
Listen attentively to the words of Allah 300
Everyone is searching for happiness, but . . . 301
Prepare for bad ti1nes by being thankful when all i s well 302
Bliss versus the F ire 303
Have We not opened your breast
for you [O ' ]vfuhammad}? 304
A good life 305
What then is happiness? 307
To Him do the good words ascend 310
Such is the Sei2ure of your Lord 311
Don 't he Sad 13

The suppl ication of the wronged 314


The importance of having a good friend 3 14
In Islam, security is a must 315
Fleeting glory 316
Performing virtuous deeds is the crown
on the head of a happy life 31 8
Everlastingness and Paradise are there, and not here! 32 1
Enemies of the Divine way 322
The reality of this life 323
The key to happiness 326
Pause to reflect 326
How they used to live 327
What the wise say about patience 328
The importance of a positive attitude 330
A few words on patience 33 I
Pause to re_flect 332
Don ' t grieve i f you are poor, for your true value
is not determined by your bank balance 333
A word o n reading 333
Don't be sad, and study Allah's signs in the creation 334
O' Allah! O ' Allah ! 338
Don ' t grieve, for change must take p lace 3 40
Do not give pleasure to your enemy by displaying grief 340
Optimism versus skepticism 341
O ' son of Adam, do not despair 343
Pause to reflect 3 45
Blessings in disguise 3 46
The fruits of contentment 350
Being pleased with Allah 35 1
For the malcontented there is wrath 351
The benefits one reaps by being contented 352
14 List qf' Contents

Do not challenge your Lord 353


A j ust decree 35 3
Resentment yields no return 354
Safety is in contentment 354
Dissatisfaction is the door to doubt 355
Satisfaction is richness and safety 355
The fruit of contentment is thankfulness 356
The fruit af discontentment is disbelief 356
Dissatisfaction is a trap of the devil 357
Another word on contentment 358
Overlooking the faults of one's brothers 359
Take advantage of health and free time 36 1
Allah protects those who believe 36 1
Signposts on the seeker's highway 364
Being blessed with honor is also a test 365
The enduring treasures 366
Determination can overcome insurmountable barriers 367
Reading in order to learn wisdom 367
And when I a m ill, it is He Who cures me 368
Take your precautions 3 70
Verify the facts yourself 370
Resolve to do something and then do it 370
The li fe of this world 37 1
Hiding from evil i s a temporary solution 372
Remember that you are dealing with the Most Merciful 374
Optimism 375
Life is toil 375
Pause to rejlect 376
Treading the middle path saves one from destruction 376
One is judged by one's dominant characteristics 377
One :S' inborn character 378
Don 't he Sad 15

It is not enough to be merely intelligent:


One needs true guidance as well 3 79
If one has inner beauty, he will discem
beauty in the universe 381
Relief after hardship 382
You are above jealousy 383
Pause to rejlect 384
Knowledge is the key to serenity and ease 385
The wrong way to go about things . . . 3 85
The noblest human being 386
One step at a time 387
Whether you have a little or a lot, leam t o be thankful 388
Three plaques 389
Pause to reflect 3 89
Be free from worry and fear 3 90
Deeds of charity 39 1
Recreation and relaxation 392
Pause to reflect 396
Contemplate the universe 397
Follow a studied plan 397
Do not be disorderly in your affairs 3 99
Your value is determined by your faith and character 400
The bliss of the Companions
(may Allah be pleased with them) 402
The wretchedness of the disbelievers 403
Pause to re_fiect 403
Be gentle with womenfolk 404
A smile every moming 404
An obsession for revenge is poison
that flows through a diseased soul 407
Pause to rejlect 407
16 List of Contents

Do not melt in to someone el se 's personality 408


Waiting for relief from Allah 409
Pursue work that you enjoy 410
Pause to reflect 41 1
Guidance: A natural consequence of belief 412
The middle course 414
Avoiding extremes 415
Pause to reflect 416
Who are the righteous ones? 416
Allah is Most Kind to His slaves 417
And He will provide him from [sources}
he never could imagine 419
An early recompense 42 1
When you ask, ask Allah 423
Precious moments 424
D ivine pre-ordainment 426
Death 426
Allah Alone is All-Powerful 428
Unexpected relief 430
A llah allows m iracles to occur
for His righteous slaves 430
Allah is A ll-Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs 432
Everything in the universe glorifies Allah 434
B e pleased with Allah 436
A call from the N akhlah valley 44 1
The first generation of Muslims 442
Contentment even after being ruined 444
B e resolute in making a decision 445
The believer is firm and resolute 448
The tax on being an eloquent speaker 449
Perfect comfort and rest are in Paradise 45 1
Don '1 be Sad 17

Gentleness helps you achieve your goals 452


Anxiety does not help 454
Peace of mind is in having the basic necessities of life 454
Be prepared for the worst-case scenario 455
You are doing well if you are healthy
and have enough food 457
Extinguish the fire of enmity befare it spreads 458
Don 't belittle another person 's efforts 459
Deal with others as you would have them deal with you 462
Be fair 463
Avoid being artificial 463
If you really cannot do something, leave it 464
Do not be chaotic in your life 465

CONCLUSION 467
GLOSSARY 469
TRANSLITERATION CHART 474
About this Book

At a time in which the Muslims are beset with trials from every
periphery and within, comes this heartening book rooted in the
commandments of A llah, Azzawajall (the Exalted), the Sunnah and
the excellent guidance and examples ofthe Muslims that came before
us.
Don 't be Sad is an important book for all. I t is full of practical
advice on how to repel despair and replace it with a pragmatic and
ultimately satisfying I slamic outlook on life. It exposes to the modem
reader how Islam teaches us to deal with the tests and tribulations of
this world.
This book contains verses of the Qur'an, sayings of the Prophet
Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him) and of his
Companions as well as of the wise. But it also contains sayings of
Western and Eastern thinkers and philosophers, sayings that coincide
with the truth.
This hook, the culmination of deep and organized thought, says
to you in short: "Be happy, at peace, andjoy/uf; and don 't be sad. "
Publisher's Note

All praise is for A1lah, the Exalted. May A llah 's peace and
blessings be on Muhammad, on his family, and on his Companions.
As a publisher of Islamic books, I am inundated with a spate of
books that people think should be translated and published. The
process of sifting through those books and choosing the hest ones is a
responsibility that a publisher cannot take lightly, for those are the
books that English speaking Muslims will depend on to leam their
Religion. Making a choice between those books is never easy, as
there are many excellent Islamic books that have yet to be translated
into English.
Choosing Don 't be Sad, however, was an easy choice, not only
because its subject matter is very relevant to our times, but also
because the author deals with it very effectivel y. Shaykh ' Aaidh al
Qarnee delves into problems that both Muslims and non-Muslims
suffer from, mentioning solutions, though, from an I slamic
perspective. There are a surfeit of self-help programs and self-help
books that try to deal with how to overcome depression or how to
cope with problems or calamity - or even how to achieve happiness.
Those books and programs, however, are, for the most part, feeble
attempts at dealing with these problems, because they don't get to the
heart of the matter: faith in Allah. The ideas found in this book
proceed from the premise that faith in Allah i s necessary to solving
any problem. Nevertheless, Don ' t be Sad is not a work that is limited
to Muslims, for any non-Muslim who reads it with an open mind will
appreciate the author's ideas and thoughts, ideas that are based on the
firm footing of revealed texts and thoughts that are penetrating and
learned.
20 Pub/ishcr 's Note

l lPH, with a qualified staff of translators, is continually making


efforts to publish quality books for the English reader. I sincerely
hope that you, the reader, benefit from this book and that Allah, the
Exalted, rewards its author and all those who helped bring it together.
And may A llah 's peace and bl essings be upon our Prophet
Muhammad, his family, his Companions, and the believers.

Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Musin A l Tuwaijri


General Manager,
International Tslamic Publishing House
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Translator's Foreword

All praise is for Allah, the Exalted; may H e send peace and
blessings on Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions.
In Don i be Sad, Shaykh 'Aaidh al-Qamee offers a practical
approach not only in dealing with, but also in overcoming, the
various hardships and difficulties we face in life. He manages to
engage the reader's attention from the very b eginning of the hook,
giving answers to the doubts that besiege us when we are aftlicted
with hardship or depression. Because Shaykh Aaidh writes from an

Islamic perspective, with his advice taken from infallible sources -


the Qur'an and the Sunnah, he goes beyond other books on this topic,
books that, for the most part, are full of platitudes and rhetoric and
short on sound, practical advice.
Yet Shaykh 'Aaidh does something in this hook that some
Muslims might obj ect to: at times, he quotes Western and Eastem
Philosophers. Some might say that relying on their sayings is
contrary to what an Islamic author should do, gi ven the vast wealth of
knowledge that can be found in books written and compiled by
Muslim scholars. However, Shaykh 'Aaidh quotes non-Muslims
only when what they say is relevant to the subject matter and is in
agreement with the truth. Furthermore, he doesn 't rely on those
quotes to establish principles and rules; rather, he uses them merely to
add variety and flavor to the book. Wisdom is the goal of every
believer, wherever he .finds it, he is most deserving of it.
This book provides the reader with the Islamic approach to
dealing with the trials and tribulations of life. Because change is a
gradual and painstaking process, I advise you not to read this hook in
one sitting in an attempt to absorb everything in the span of a few
hours. You should take it in doses, allowing yourself time to reflect
22 Translaror 'sforeword

on the seemingly simple, yet profoundly deep, wisdom written


herein. At the present time, when so many of us are afflicted with the
ailments described in this book - depression, grief, spiritual malaise
- we would be wise to read Don 't be Sad.

My Methodology in Translating Don 't be Sad

This book is intended for both the Arab and the Non-Arab
readers; however, in all fairness to the English reader, I did not render
a word-for-word translation. Doing so would have defeated the
author's purpose. H e wrote in a style that is both elegant and graceful
in Arabic, but if it w ere to be translated verbatim into English, the
result would be unfavorable - the style would at best seem
awkward. H ere I give you an outline of how I translated this work:
I. Poetry: I translated approximately twenty-five percent of the
poems found in the original version of the book. I translated those
verses of poetry that I clearly understood and that I felt would have a
positive impact on the reader. Those translated verses do not come
close to their full meanings and some of them Jose the many
connotations found i n the precise wording of the original. But I,
nonetheless, translated them because their meanings contain some
wisdom.
2. The author's style, as is the style of most good Arabic writers, is
very descriptive, very florid: he often uses many adjectives when
attempting to give a single meaning. Because this style is not as
effective in English, I had to do some pruning, striking out, and
summarizing -- all for the sake of concision. Wherever I did this, I
did so in the interest of the English reader, trying to simplify and
summarize sentences and paragraphs without sacrificing nuances in
meanmg.
Don 't he Sad 23

3 . Islamic terms : I loosely translated some Islamic terms that other


translators often transliterate (words such as 'Eemaan').
Transliteration makes the reader pause so that he can understand
the word's meaning. Unlike the case for a scholarly essay that deals
with a difficult subject, a person should be able to read Don t be Sad
quickly, without having to stop and consider difficult terms; h e
should be able to move from one idea to the next, without being
interrupted by unwelcome pauses. If the book were on Islamic
Jurisprudence, however, where the meanings of terms are more
crucial, I feel that terms should be transliterated, so as to preserve
their full meaning.
4. The book contains a great deal of repetition; the author himself
mentions this in his introduction. On some occasions, when I deemed
it important to the flow of the book, I omitted some of the repetition.
For the most part, though, I tried to remedy the problem by
expressing an idea the second time around in a different way,
changing both the wording and the style.
5. Though the author did not do so, I mentioned the Chapter and
Verse numbers of the Qur'anic text.
6. The author quotes many non-Arab writers, most of them being
English thinkers or philosophers. Because he mentions the quotes in
Arabic, and because of the difficulty involved in tinding all of the
original sayings in English, I deemed it sufficient to translate the
quotes back into English, and so, they are not the exact words of the
persons being quoted.
May Allah, the Exalted, reward the author for his e fforts in
writing this much-needed book. May He guide us to the Straight
Path, save us from the Hellfire, and admit us by His mercy into
Paratlise.
Faisal ibn Muhammad
lntroduction to the First Edition
(Of the Arabic Version)

All praise is for A llah, the Almighty, and may H e send peace and
blessings on Muhammad, on his family, and on his Companions. It is
my sincere hope that readers will benefit from this book. Before
reading it, you might - after only a perfunctory glance - pass some
kind of judgment, but let sound logic and precepts taken from
revelation arbitrate that judgment. Also, bear in mind that it is indeed
a culpable offence for one to judge a work hefore having tasted it or at
least hearing what it is ahout. So here I present to you a synopsis of
this hook.
I wrote this book for anyone who is living through pain and grief
or who has been afflicted with a hardship, a hardship that results in
sadness and restless n i ghts. For the cure, I have filled the pages of this
book with dosages taken from various sources - the Qur'an, the
Sunnah, poetry, poignant anecdotes, parables, and true stories.
This hook says the following: Rejoice and be happy; remain
positive and at peace. Indeed it says this as well : Live life as it should
be lived - wholesomely, happily, and productively. This book
diagnoses those mistakes we make that go against the intrinsic logic
that w e - as human beings - have been endowed with (but which
we are made to forget when we do not follow correct guidance ),
whether those mistakes are in our thinking or in our dea1ings.
This hook forhids you from persisting in ways that are in conflict
with the realities of life and with what Allah, the Exalted, has
preordained. It calls you not from without, but from within, from
what your soul already knows - that you should trust your talents,
that you should develop them, that you should forget the troubles and
vicissitudes of life, '-''bile concentrating on the positive and on the
Don't be Sad 25

good destination that a positive attitude leads to .


There are some important issues regarding this book that I now
want to clarify:
1 . A reminder of Allah's mercy and forgiveness, sincere faith in Him,
belief in preordainment and decree, a life that is lived within the
boundaries of today, and a reminder of Allah s countless favors -
these are some of the more important themes of this book.
2. With its ideas and cures, this book strives to help banish worry,
sadness, grief, sense of failure, and hopelessness.
3 . I gleaned whatever I found to be pertinent to the topic of the book
from these sources: Verses of the Qur'an, sayings of the Prophet
(Blessings and Peace be upon him), stories, parables, poems, and
sayings of the wise. This book is no mere sermon, idle exercise in
thought, or invitation to a political ideology. Rather, this book is an
eamest invitation to your happiness.
4. This book is not only for Muslims; rather, it is suitable for all
readers. While writing it, I took into consideration feelings and
emotions that are common to everyone. Nevertheless, I wrote it based
on the true Religion (whether we deviate from it or not) that is
intrinsic to us all.
5. You will find sayings of Eastem and Western writers and
philosophers. I do not think that I should be held blameworthy
because of that, for wisdom is the goal of every believer; wherever he
finds, he is most deserving of it.
6. I did not add any footnotes to the book, thus making it easier for
the reader to peruse without interruption. The source of a quote is
mentioned within the text of the book.
7. Imitating those before me (i.e. Islamic writers from centuries ago) ,
l did not mention page or volume numbers o f sources, deeming that
to be more beneficial for this particular book. Sometimes I directly
quoted a passage; other times I summarized its main idea.
26 /ntroduction to the First Edition

8. I did not organize this book according to chapters; rather, I varied


the content, inserting topics that may not be directly related to the
ones before or after. I moved quickly from one topic to another,
sometimes retuming to a previous topic in order to make the perusal
of thi s book more enjoyable.
9. I did not mention the numbers of verses, nor did I mention the
sources for the Prophet's sayings. If a hadith is weak, I pointed that
out. If it is authentic or asan, I either pointed that out or said
nothing. All of this I have done for the purpose of concision.
1 0. The reader will notice that some meanings and topics are repeated
(though in varying style) throughout the book. This I have done on
purpose, so that a given meaning may attach itself to the reader's
mind through repetition. Whoever reflects on how recurring themes
are found in the Quran should appreciate the benefits of fol lowing
this methodology.
These are ten points to keep in mind while you are reading this
book. I do hope, though, that you will be just in your j udgment and
that your bias will be toward true and correct knowledge. Finally, this
book i s not written for a specific group of people; rather, it is for
anyone who wants to live a happy life.

'Aaidh ibn 'Abdullah al-Qarnee


0' Allah!

Whosoever is in the heavens and an earth begs of Him. Every day


He has a matter to bring forth [such as gz'ving honor to same,
disgrace to some, life to some, death to same, etc.}.'
(Qur 'an 55: 2 9)
When there is a violent storm and the seas are turb ulent, the
occupants of the boat call out, '0' Allah ! '
When the camel-driver and the caravan are lost in the desert,
they call out, 'O' Allah ! '
When disaster and calamity occur, the afflicted call out, 'O' Allah ! '
When doors are shut before those who seek to enter through
them and barriers are placed before those who are in need - they all
cry out, '0' Allah ! '
When all plans end in failure, all hope is lost, and the path
becomes constricted, 'O' Allah, ' is called out.
When the earth, vast and wide though it is. is straitened for you,
causing your soul to feel constricted, call out, ' O ' Allah ! '
To Allah ascend all good words, the sincere supplication, the
tears of the innocent, and the invocations of the afflicted. Hands and
eyes are extended to Him in times of hardship and misfortune. The
tongue chants , cries out, and mentions His name. The heart finds
peace, the soul finds rest, the nerves are relaxed, and the intellect is
awakened - these are all achieved when we remember Allah,
Subaahnahu wa Ta 'alaa - ' How perfect H e is, the Exalted. '
Allah is ve0 Gracious and Kind to His slaves.! (Qur 'an 42: 1 9)
Allah: the most beautiful of names, the truest combination o f
letters, and the most precious of words.
Do you knott' of any that is similar to Him ? [There is nothing like
unto Him and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer}.
(Qur 'an 1 9: 65)
28 Contemplate und be thankfi.d

Allah: He is thought of when absolute richness, strength, glory


and wisdom come to mind.
Whose is the kingdom this Day? [A llah Himself wi/l reply to His
question}: It is A llah s - the One, the lrresistihle!J
(Qur 'an 40: 1 6)
Allah: He is thought of when kindness, care, rel ief, affection,
and mercy come to mind.
And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from
A llah) (Qur 'an 16: 53)
O ' Allah, Possessor of Majesty, Magnificence, and Might, let
comfort take the place of sorrow, make happiness come after sadness,
and let safety take the p1ace of fear.
O' Allah: Soothe buming hearts with the coolness of faith.
O ' our Lord: Gi,e peacefu] slumber to the restless and serenity
to disturbed souls.
0' our Lord: Guide the confused ones to your light and those
that are astray to your guidance.
O ' Allah: Remove evil whispers from our hearts and replace
them with light, destroy falsehood with truth, and crush the evil plots
o f the Devil with your army of Angels.
O ' Allah: Remov e from us misery, affliction, and anxiety.
We seek refuge i n You from fearing anything except You, from
depending upon anyone except upon You, from putting our full trust
in any one except in You, and from invoking anyone other than You.
You are the Supreme Patron and an excellent Protector.

Contemplate and be thankful

Remember the fa vors of Allah upon you and how they surround
you from above and below - indeed, from every direction.
Contemplate and he tha11k.fi1/ 29

And (lyou ivould count the graces o.fAllah, never could you he ahle
to count them) (Qur 'an 1 4: 34)
Health, safety, nourishment, clothing, air, and water these all
point to the world being yours, yet you do not realize it. You possess
all that life has to offer, yet remain ignorant.
ri!He has completed and pe1.fected His Graces upon you, [both}
apparent [i. e. lslamic Monotheism, and the law.fi1l pleasures of this
world, including health, good looks, etc.] and hidden [i.e. ane 'sfaith
in A llah, guidance for doing righteous deeds and also the pleasures
and delights o.l the Herea.fier in Paradise, etc.}. ! (Qur 'an 3 1 : 20)
You have at your disposal two eyes, a tongue, lips, two hands,
and two legs.
ri! Then which o.f the bfessings o.fyour Lord will you both [jinns and
men} deny? (Qur 'an 55: 1 3)
Can you picture yourselfwalking without feet? Should you take
it lightly that you slumber soundly while misery hinders the sleep o f
many? Should you forget that you fill yourse lf with both delicious
dishes and cool water while the pleasure of good food and drink is
impossible for some, due to sickness and d isease? Consider the
faculties of hearing and seeing with which you have been endowed.
Look at your healthy skin and be grateful that you have been saved
from diseases that attack it. Reflect on your powers of reasoning and
remember those that suffer from mental ailments.
Would you sell your ability to hear and see for the weight of
Mount Ul)ud in gold, or your ability to speak for huge castles? You
have been given abundant favors, yet you feign ignorance.
Notwithstanding warm bread, cool water, e asy sleep, and good
health, you remain despondent and depressed. You think about what
you do not have and are ungrateful for what you have been given.
You are troubled by a loss in wealth, yet you have the key to
happiness and many blessings. Contemplate and be thankful.
30 The past is goneforever

And also in your o wnselves [are signs}, will you not then see?
(Qur 'an 51: 21)
Reflect upon yourself, your family, your friends, and the entire
world that is around you.
They recognize the grace af A llah, yet they deny it )
(Qur 'an 1 6: 83)

The past is gone forever

By brooding over the past and its tragedies, one exhibits a form
o f insanity - a kind of sickness that destroys resolve to live for the
present moment. Those who have a firm purpose have filed away and
forgotten occurrences of the past, which will never again see light,
s ince they occupy such a dark place in the recesses of the mind.
Episodes of the past are finished with; sadness cannot retrieve them,
melancholy cannot make things right, and depression will never
bring the past back to life. This is because the past is non-existent.
Do not live in the nightmares of former times or under the shade
o f what you have missed. Save yourself from the ghostly apparition
o f the past. Do you think that you can return the sun to its place of
rising, the baby to its mother's womb, milk to the udder, or tears to
the eye? By constantly dwelling on the past and its happenings, you
place yourself in a very frightful and tragic state of mind.
Reading too much into the past is a waste of the present. When
Allah mentioned the affairs of the previous nations, He, the Exalted,
said:
That was a nation who has passed away ) (Qur 'an 2: 134)
Former days are g one and done with, and you benefit nothing by
carrying out an autopsy over them, by tuming back the wheels of
hi story.
Today is all that you have 31

The person who lives in the past is like someone who tries to saw
sawdust. Of old, they used to say: "Do not remove the dead from
their graves. "
Our tragedy is that we are incapable of deal ing with the present:
neglecting our beautiful castles, we wail over dilapidated b uildings.
If every man and every jinn were to try jointly to bring back the past,
they would most certainly fail. Everything on earth marches forward,
preparing for a new season - and so should you.

Today is all that you have

When you wake up in the morning, do not expect to see the


evening - live as though today is all that you have. Yesterday has
passed with its good and evil, while tomorrow has not yet arrived.
Your life's span is but one day, as ifyou were bom in it and will die at
the end of it. With this attitude, you will not be caught between an
obsession over the past, with all its anxieties, and the hopes of the
future, with all its uncertainty. Live for today: During this day you
should pray with a wakeful heart, recite the Qur' an with
understanding, and remember Allah with sincerity. In this day you
should be balanced in your affairs, satisfied with your allotted
portion, concemed with your appearance and health.
Organize the hours of this day, so that you make years out of
minutes and months out of seconds. Seek forgiveness from your
Lord, remember Him, prepare for the final parting from this world,
and live today happily and at peace. Be content with your sustenance,
your wife, your children, your work, your house and your station in
life.
So hold that which I have given you and be of the grateful.
(Qur 'an 7: 1 44)
Live today free from sorrow, bother, anger, j ealousy, and malice.
32 Today is all that you have

You must engrave onto your heart one phrase: Today is my only
day. If you have eaten warm, fresh bread today, then what do
yesterday's dry, rotten bread and tomorrow's anticipated bread
matter?
If you are truthful with yourself and have a firm, solid resolve,
you will undoubtedly convince yourself of the following: Today is
my last day to live. When you achieve this attitude, you will profit
from every moment of your day, by developing your personality,
expanding your abilities, and purifying your deeds. Then you say to
yourself:
Today I shall be refined in my speech and will utter neither evil
speech nor obscenity. Also, I shall not backbite.
Today I shall organize my house and my office. They will not be
disorderly and chaotic, but organized and neat.
Today I will be particular about my bodily cleanliness and
appearance. I will be meticulous in my neatness and balanced in my
walk, talk, and actions.
Today I will strive to be obedient to my Lord, pray in the hest
manner possible, do more voluntary acts of righteousness, recite the
Qur'an, and read beneficial books. I will plant goodness into my
heart and extract from it the roots of evil - such as pride, jealousy,
and hypocrisy.
Today I will try to help others - to visit the sick, to attend a
funeral, to guide the one who is lost, and to feed the hungry. I will
stand side by side with the oppressed and the weak. I will pay respect
to the scholar, be merciful to the young, and reverent to the old.
0' past that has departed and is gone, I will not cry over you.
You will not see me remembering you, not even for a moment,
because you have traveled away from me never to return.
0' future, you are in the realm of the unseen, so I will not be
obsessed by your dreams. I will not be preoccupied about what is to
Leave thefi1ture alone until ;i emnes 33

come because tomorrow is nothing and has not yet been created.
'Today is my only day' is one of the most important statements
in the dictionary of happiness, for those who desire to live l ife in its
fullest splendor and brilliance.

Leave the future alone until it comes

The Event [the Hour or the punishment of disbelievers and


po(ytheists or the [<;;famic laws or commandments], ordained by A llah
will come to pass, so seek not to hasten it. (Qur 'an 1 6: 1)
Be not hasty and rushed for things that have yet to come to pass.
Do you think it is wise to pick fruits before they become ripe?
Tomorrow is non-existent, having no reality today, so why should
you busy yourself with it? Why should you have apprehensions
about future disasters? Why should you be engrossed by their
thoughts, especially since you do not know whether you will even
see tomorrow?
The important thing to know is that tomorrow is from the world
of the unseen, a bridge that we do not cross until it comes. Who
knows, perhaps we might never reach the bridge, or the bridge might
collapse before we reach it, or we may actually reach it and cross
safely.
For us to be engrossed in expectations about the future is looked
down upon in our religion since it leads to our having a long-term
attachment to this world, an attachment that the good believer shuns.
Many people of this world are unduly fearful of future poverty,
hunger, disease, and disaster: such thinking is inspired by the Devil.
Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha
[evil deeds, illegal sexual intercourse, sins etc.}, whereas A llah
promises you Forgiveness from Himself and Bounty. . )
(Qur 'an 2 : 268)
34 How to deal 11 ith hitter criticism

Many are hose who cry because they see themselves starving
tomorrow, fall:::;1g sick after a month, or because they fear that the
world will corr. to an end after a year. Someone who has no clue as
to when he wiL die (which is all of us) should not busy himself with
such thoughts.
Since you ire absorbed in the toils oftoday, leave tomorrow until
it comes. Bewcre of becoming unduly attached to future prospects in
this world.

How to dea! with bitter criticism

Those who are i gnorant have uttered curses at Allah, the Exalted,
the Creator of ill that exists, so what treatment should we, who are
full of faults, (!Xpect from people. You will always have to face
criticism, which in its onslaught is like an interminable war: it shows
no sign of ending. As long as you shine, give, produce, and have an
effect upon othcrs, then disapproval and condemnation will be your
lot in life . Until you escape from people by finding a tunnel in the
ground or a le:dder leading to the sky, they will not desist from
censuring you, from finding fault in your character. For that reason,
as long as you are from the denizens of earth, expect to be hurt, to be
insulted, and to be criticized.
And here i ; something you should contemplate: a person who is
sitting on the gn)und does not fall, and people do not kick a dead dog.
Therefore their anger toward you can be attributed to you surpassing
them in righteousness, knowledge, manners, or wealth. In their eyes
you are a transgressor whose wrongs cannot be atoned for - unless
you abandon your talents and strip yourself of all praiseworthy
qualities, so tbat you become stupid, worthless, and to them,
innocuous. This result is exactly what they want for you.
Do not expect gratitude from anyone 35

So remam firm and patient when facing their insults and


criticism. I f you are wounded by their words and let them have an
influence over you, you will have realized their hopes for them.
Instead, forgive them by showing them the most beautiful of
manners. Tum away from them and do not fee l distressed by their
schemes. Their disapproval of you only increases you in worth and
merit.
Verily, you will not be able to silence them, but you will be able
to bury their criticisms by tuming away from them and dismissing
what they have to say.
Say: 'Perish in your rage ') (Qur 'an 3: 119)
In faet, you will be able to mcrease them in their rage by
increasing your merits and developing your talents.
If you desire to be accepted by all and lov ed b y all, you desire
the unattainable.

Do not expect gratitude from anyone

Allah, the Almighty, created His slaves so that they may worship
and remember Him, and He provided sustenance for them so that
they may be grateful to Him. Nevertheless, many have worshipped
other than H im and the masses are thankful not to Him, but to others,
because the characteristic of ingratitude is widespread among human
beings. So do not be dismayed when you find that others forget your
favors or disregard your kind acts. Some peopl e might even despise
you and make you an enemy for no other reason than that you have
shown them kindness.
And they cou/d not find any cause to bear a grudge, except that
Allah and His Messenger had enriched them af His Bounty.
(Qur 'an 9: 74)
36 Do not expeCI gratitudejiom anyone

From among the ever-repeating pages of history is a story of a


father and his son: the former raised him, fed him, clothed him and
taught him he would stay up nights so that his son could sleep, stay
hungry so that his son could eat, and he would toil so that his son
could feel comfort. And when the son became older and stronger, he
rewarded his father with disobedience, disrespect, and contempt.
So be at peace if you are requited with ungratefulness for the
good you have done. Rejoice in your knowledge that you will be
rewarded from the One Who has unlimited treasures at His disposal.
This is not to say that you should refrain from performing acts of
kindness towards others: the point is that you should be mentally
prepared for ingratitude.
Perform acts of charity seeking Allah 's p leasure, because with
this attitude you will assuredly be successful. The ungrateful person
cannot really harm you: praise Allah that that person is the
transgressor and that you are the obedient servant. Also, remember
that the hand that g ives is better than the hand that receives.
q we feed you seeking Allah s Countenance only. We i1lish for no
reward, nor thanks from you) (Qur 'an 76: 9)
Many people are shocked at the nature of ingratitude in others, as
though they had never come across this verse and others like it:
And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying down on his side,
or sitting ar standing. But when We have removed his harm.from him,
h e passes on h is way as i.f he had never invoked Us for a harm that
touched him ! (Qur 'an J O: 12)
Hence do not be in a state of agitation if you give someone a pen
as a gift and he uses it to satirize you, or if you give someone a
walking stick to lean upon and he strikes you with it. As I pointed out
earlier, most human beings are ungrateful to their Lord, so what
treatment should you and I expect?
Doing good to Ol hers xives CV11!/ ort to rhe heart 37

Doing good to others gi,ves comfort to the heart

The first person who benefits from an aet of charity is the


benefactor himself, by seeing changes in himself and in his manners,
by tinding peace, by watching a smile form on the lips of another
person.
If you find yourself to be in difficulty or d istress, show kindness
to others, and you will be the first to find solace and eomfort. G ive to
the needy, defend the oppressed, help those in distress, and visit the
sick: you will find that happiness surrounds you from all directions.
An aet of eharity is like perfume - it benefits the user, the seller,
and the buyer. Furthermore, the psyehological benefits that one
reeeives from helping others are indeed great. If you suffer from
depression, an aet of charity will have a more potent effect on your
sickness than will the best available medieine.
Even when you smile upon meeting others, you are giving
eharity. The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Do not dismiss eertain aets of kindness by deeming
them to be insignifieant, even if ( such an aet) is to meet
your brother with a smiling face (for that is a deed
whieh might weigh heavily in your scale of deeds). "
On the other hand, when you frown upon meeting others, you
are displaying a sign of enmity, an aet that i s so detrimental to
brotherhood that only Allah knows the full extent of its evil effects.
The Prophet (bpuh) infonned us that the prostitute who once
gave a handful of water to a dog was rewarded for that deed with
Paradise, whieh is as wide as the heavens and the earth. This is
beeause the Giver of rewards is Forgiving, Rich, and Worthy of
Praise.
O ' you, who are threatened by misery, fear and grief, occupy
yourself in the betterment of others. Help others in different ways -
38 Repel boredom wirh work

through charity, hospitality, sympathy. and support. And in doing so,


you will find all of the happiness that you desire.
He who spends his i1ealth for increase in self-purification, and has
in his mind n o favor from anyonefor which a reward is expected in
return; except only the desire to seek the Countenance of his Lord,
the Most High. He surely will be pleased [when he enters Paradisej)
(Qur 'an 92: 1 8-21)

Repel boredom with work

Those who have nothing to do with their lives are the same
people who spend most oftheir time spreading rumors and falsehood,
mainly because their minds are devoid of beneficial thoughts:
They are content to be with those [the women} who sit behind [at
home]. Their hearts are sealed up [from right guidanceJ so they
understand not. (Qur 'an 9: 87)
When you find yourself to be idle, prepare for depression and
despair, because idleness allows your mind to wander in the past, the
present, and the future, with all of their difficulties. Therefore, my
sincere advice to you is to perform fruitful acts instead of being id le,
for idleness is a slow and veiled form of suicide.
Idleness is like the slow torture that is inflicted upon prisoners in
China: they are placed under a tap, from which a drop of water falls
only after every hour. During the period of waiting between drops,
many of them lose their minds and are driven to insanity.
Being inactive means being negligent of one's duties. Idleness is
an expert thief and your mind is its victim.
Therefore get up now and say a prayer or read a hook; praise
your Lord, study, write, organize your library, fix something in your
house, or benefit others so that you can put an end to your inactivity. I
say this only because I sincerely wish for your betterment.
Do not be a mimicker 39

Destroy boredorn by working. When you apply this simple


precept alone, you will have traveled at least fi fty percent of the way
towards happiness. Look at farmers, carpenters, and the bread-maker,
and observe how, when they are working, they recite words as
melodious as the singing of hirds, because they are content.
Afterwards observe yourself and how you toss and tum on your bed
while wiping away your tears, always miserable, always torturing
yourself.

Do not be a mimicker

Do not transform yourself into someone who you are not: do not
mimic others. Many are those that feign to forget their own voices,
movements, idiosyncrasies, and habits, in order to imitate others in
their ways. Among the consequences of such behavior are
artificiality, unhappiness, and a destruction of one's own entity.
From Adam to the last bom baby, no two people are exactly the
same in appearance. Why then should they be the same in
mannerisms and tastes?
You are unique - none had been like you in the past and none
shall be like you in the future. You are totally different from X or Y,
so do not force upon yourself the blind following and imitation o f
others.
Go forth according to your own nature and disposition.
Each [gro up of] people knew its own place for water.
(Qur 'an 2: 60)
For every nation there is a direction to which they face, so hasten
towards all that is good. (Qur 'an 2 : 148)
Be as you were created and do not change your voice or modi fy
your walk. Cultivate your personality by following what is found in
revelation, but do not render your existence void by imitating others
40 Pre-ordainmenl

and by depriving yourself of your individuality.


Your tastes and preferences are specific to you and we want you
to stay as you are, especially because that is the way you were created
and that is how we know you to be. The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"And let no one among you be an imitator of others. "
In terms of characteristics, people are like the world of trees and
plants: sweet and sour, tall and short, and so on. Your beauty and
value is in preserving your natural state. Our varied colors,
languages, talents, and abilities are signs from our Creator, the
Almighty, All-Glorious, so do not disbelieve in them.

Pre-ordainment

No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in


the Book of Decrees - befare We bring it in to existence.
(Qur 'an 5 7: 22)
The pen has dried, the pages have been lifted: all events that
shall come to pass h ave already been written.
Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordainedfor
us) (Qur 'an 9: 51)
Whatever has befallen you was not meant to escape you, and
whatever has escaped you was not meant to befall you: If this belief
were to be firmly ingrained in your heart, then all hardship and
difficulty would become ease and comfort. The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Whoever Allah wishes good for, He inflicts him (with
hardship ). "
For this reason, do not feel overly troubled if you are afflicted
with sickness, the death of a son, or a loss in wealth. Allah has
decreed these matters to occur and the decisions are His, and His
alone. When we truly have this faith, we shall be rewarded well and
our sins shall be atoned for.
Verily, 1rith hardship, there is relief 41

For those that are afflicted with disaster, glad tidings await them:
so remain patient and. happy with your Lord.
He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be
questioned. (Qur 'an 21: 23)
You will never completely feel at ease until you firmly believe
that Allah has already pre-ordained all matters. The pen has dried and
with it has been written everything that will happen to you. Therefore
do not feel remorse over that which is not in your hands. Do not think
that you could have prevented the fence from falling, the water from
flowing, the wind from blowing, or the glass from breaking. You
could not have prevented these things, whether you wanted to or not.
All that has been preordained shall come to pass.
Then whosoever wills let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him
disbelieve. (Qur 'an 18: 2 9)
Surrender yourself: believe in preordainment, before pangs of
anger and regret overwhelm you. If you have done all that was in
your power, and afterwards what you had been striving against still
takes place, have firm faith that it was meant to be. Do not say, ' Had I
done such-and-such, such-and-such would h ave happened'; rather
say, 'This is the decree of Allah, and what He wishes, He does . '

Verily, with hardship, there is relief

Verily, with hardship, there is relief (Qur 'an 94: 6)


Eating follows hunger, drinking follows thirst, sleep comes after
restlessness, and health takes the place of sickness. The lost will find
their way, the one in difficulty will find relief, and the day will follow
the night.
Perhaps A llah may bring a victory or a decision according to His
Will. (Qur 'an 5: 52)
42 Verdy, 11i1h hardship , there is relief

Inform the night of a coming moming, the light of which will


penneate the mountains and valleys. Give to the afflicted tidings of a
sudden relief that will reach them with the speed of light or with the
blinking of an eye.
lf you see that the desert extends for miles and miles, then know
that beyond that distance are green meadows with plentiful shade.
I f you see the rope tighten and tighten, know that it will snap.
Tears are fol lowed by a smile, fear is replaced by comfort, and
anxiety is overthrown by serenity. When the fire was set for him,
Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham) (may peace be upon him) did not feel
its heat because of the help he received from his Lord.
We [Allah} said: o fire! Be you coolness and safety for
lbraheem! ' (Qur 'an 21: 69)
The sea woul d not drown Prophet Moses (may peace be upon
him), because he uttered in a confident, strong, and truthfu l manner:
'Nay, verily! With me is my Lord, He will guide me. '
(Qur 'an 26: 62)
The Prophet Muhammad (bpuh) told Abu Bakr in the cave that
A llah was with them - then peace and tranquility descended upon
them.
Those that are s laves of the moment see only misery and
wretchedness. This is because they look only at the wall and door of
the room, whereas they should look beyond such barriers as are set
befare them.
Therefore do not be in despair: it is impossible for things to
remain the same. The days and years rotate, the future is unseen, and
every day Allah has matters to bring forth. You know it not, but it
may be that Allah will afterwards bring some new thing to pass. And
verily, with hardship there is relief.
Con vert a lemon info a .nreet drink 43

Convert a lemon into a sweet drink

An intelligent and skillful person transfonns losses into profits;


whereas, the unskilled person aggravates his o wn predicament, often
making two disasters out of one.
The Prophet (bpuh) was compelled to leave Makkah, but rather
than quit his mission, he continued it in Madeenah - the city that
took its place in history with lightning speed.
Imam Al)mad ibn I:Ianbal was severely tortured and flogged, and
yet he emerged triumphant from that ordeal, becoming the Imam of
the Sunnah. Imam Ibn Taymiyah was put into prison; he later came
out an even more accomplished scholar than he was before. Imam
As-Sarakhsi was held as a prisoner, kept at the bottom o f an unused
well; he managed therein to produce twenty volumes on Islamic
jurisprudence. lbn Atheer became crippled, after which he wrote
Jam 'ey al-U$ool and A n-Nihayah, two of the most famous books in
the Science of Hadith. Imam Ibn al-Jawzi was banished from
Baghdad. Then, through his travets, he became proficient in the
seven recitations of the Qur'an. Maalik ibn ar-Rayb was on his
deathbed when he recited his most famous and beautiful poem, which
is appreciated until this day. When Abi Dhu'ai b al-Hadhali's children
<lied befare him, he eulogized them with a poem that the world
listened to and admired.
Therefore, if you are afflicted with a misfortune, look on the
bright side. If someone were to hand you a glass full of squeezed
lemons, add to it a handful of sugar. And if someone gives you a
snake as a gift, keep its precious skin and l eave the rest.
'4.And it may be that you dislike a thing that is good for you" )
(Qur 'an 2: 21 6)
Before its violent revolution, France i mprisoned two brilliant
poets: one an optimist, the other a pessimist. They both squeezed
44 Is not He [betler than your gods}. ..

their heads through the bars of their cell windows. The optimist then
stared at the stars and laughed, while the pessimist looked at the dirt
of a neighboring road and wept. Look at the other side of a tragedy -
a circumstance of pure evil does not exist, and in all situations one
can find goodness and profit and reward from Allah.

Is not He [betler than your gods}


Who responds to the distressed

Is not He [better than your gods} Who responds to the distressed


one, when he calls Him . . ) (Qur 'an 2 7: 62)
From Whom do the weak and the oppressed seek victory? Who
does everyone beseech? He is Allah. None has the right to be
worshipped except H im.
Therefore it is most advisable for you and I to invoke Him
during times of both hardship and ease, to seek shelter with Him in
difficult times, and to plead at His doorstep with tears of repentance;
then will His help and relief quickly arrive.
Is not He [better than your gods} Who responds to the distressed
ane, when he calls Him. . ) (Qur 'an 2 7: 62)
H e saves the one who is drowning, gives victory to the
oppressed, guides the misguided, cures the sick, and provides relief
to the afflicted.
qAnd when they embark on a ship, they invoke Allah, making their
Faith pure for Him only. . ) (Qur 'an 29: 65)
As for the various supplications one makes to remove hardship, I
refer you to the books of the Sunnah. In them, you will leam
prophetic supplications with which you can call to Allah, supplicate
to Him, and seek His aid. lf you have found Him, then you have
found everything. And if you lose your faith in Him, then you have
lost everything. By supplicating to Him you are performing one of
Enough for you is your hom<' 45

the highest forms of worship. If you are persistent and sincere in your
supplication, you will achieve freedom from worry and anxiety. All
ropes are cut loose save His, and all doors are shut save His. He is
near; He hears all and answers those who supplicate to Him.
L . invoke Me [and ask Me for anythingj, I 1vill respond to your
[invocation}. (Qur 'an 40: 60)
I f you are living through affliction and p ain, remember Allah,
call out H is name, and ask Him for help. Place your forehead on the
ground and mention His praises, so that you can obtain true freedom .
Raise your bands i n supplication, and ask o f H i m constantly. C l ing to
His door, have good thoughts about Him, and wait for H i s help -
you will then find true happiness and success.

Enough for you is your home

The words 'isolation' and 'seclusion' have a special meaning in


our religion: to stay away from evil and its perpetrators, and to keep
those who are foolish at a distance. When you seclude yourself from
evil in this manner, you will have an opportun ity to reflect, to think,
to graze in the meadows of enlightenment.
When you isolate yourself from things that divert you from
Allah's obedience, you are giving yourself a dose of medicine, one
that doctors of the heart have found to be a most potent cure. When
you seclude yourself from evil and idleness, your brain is stimulated
into action. The results are increases in faith, repentance, and
remembrance of Allah, the Most Merciful.
However, some gatherings are not onl y recommended, but
necessary: the congregational prayer, circles of leaming, and all
gatherings of righteousness. As for gatherings wherein frivolity and
shallowness prevail, be wary of them. Take flight from such
gatherings, weep over your wrongdoing, hold your tongue, and be
46 Your recornpense is with Allah

content within the boundaries of your home. By mixing with others


based on foolish motives, you endanger the stability and soundness
o f your mind, for the people you indiscriminately mix with are likely
to be experts at wasting time, masters at spreading lies, and skilled in
spreading both trouble and mischief.
Had they marched out with you, they would have added to you
nothing except disorder, and they would have hurried about in your
m idst [spreading corruption} and sowing sedition among you. . )
(Qur 'an 9: 4 7)
I advise you to fortify yourself to your purpose and isolate
yourself in your room, except when you leave it to speak wel l or to do
well. When you apply this advice, you will find that your heart has
retumed to you. S o use your time well and save your life from being
wasted. Hold your tongue from backbiting, free your heart from
anxiety, and preserve your ears from profanity.

Your recompense is with Allah

When Allah, the Exalted, takes something away from you, He


compensates you with something better, but only if you are patient
and seek your reward from Him. The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Whoever has his eyesight taken away from him and is
(then) patient, he will be compensated for it with
Paradise. "
The Prophet (bpuh) said i n another hadith:
"Whoever lose s a loved one from the people of this
world and then seeks his recompense with his Lord, will
be compensated with Paradise. "
S o do not feel excessive sorrow over some misfortune, because
the One Who decreed it has with Him Paradise: recompense and a
great reward.
Faith is /(fe itse(l 47

Those that are afflicted in this world and are close to Allah will
be praised in the highest part of heaven:
Peace be upon you, because you persevered in patience! Excellent
indeed is the final home/ (Qur 'an 1 3: 2 4)
We must contemplate the reward one receives for forbearing
hardship.
They are those on whom are the Salawaat [i. e. blessings} [i. e. who
are blessed and will beforgiven}from their Lord, and they are those
who receive His Mercy. And it is they who are the guided-ones.
(Qur 'an 2: 1 5 7)
Truly, the life of this world is short and its treasures are few. The
Hereafter is betler and everlasting, and whosoever is afflicted here
shall find his reward there. And whosoever works hard here shall find
ease there. As for those who cling to this world, who are attached to
it, and who are in love with it, the hardest thing for them to bear
would be to lose the world's comforts and riches: they desire to enj oy
this li fe alone. Because of this desire, they don 't react to misfortune
as well as others do. What they perceive around them is this life
alone: they are blind to its impermanence and insignificance.
0'afflicted ones, if you are patient you lo se nothing; and though
you may not perceive it, you are profiting. The person who is
aftlicted with hardship should reflect upon the outcome in the
Hereafter, the outcome for those who are patient.
So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Inside it
will be mercy, and outside it will be forment) (Qur 'an 5 7: 1 3)

Faith is life itself

Those that are wretched, in the full sense o f the word, are those
that are bereft of the treasures of faith. They are always in a state of
misery and anger.
48 Faith is !(fe itse(f

But whosoever turns awayfrom My Reminder [i. e. neither believes


in this Qur 'an nor acts on its orders, etc.} verily, for him is a l(fe af
hardship. . ) (Qur 'an 20: 124)
The only means of purifying the heart and ofremoving anxieties
and worries from it is to have complete faith in Allah, Lord of all that
exists. In faet, there c an be no true meaning to life when one has no
faith.
The best course of action that a confirmed atheist can take, if he
will not believe, is to take his own life. At least by doing so, he will
free himself from the darkness and wretchedness in which he lives.
How base and mean is a life without faith ! How eternally accursed is
the existence enveloping those who are outside of the boundaries set
down by Allah !
A nd We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away [from guidance},
as they refused to believe thereinfor thefirst time, and We shall leave
them in their trespass to wander blindly ) (Qur 'an 6: 110)
Has not the time come when the world should have an
unquestioning faith - that none has the right to be worshipped
except A llah? After centuries of experience, should not mankind be
led to the realization that having faith in a statue is ludicrous, that
atheism i s absurd, that the Prophets were truthful, and that to Allah
alone belongs the dominion of the heavens and earth? All praise is
due to A llah and He is upon all things capable.
In proportion to the level ofyour faith - strong or weak, firm or
wavering - will you be happy and at peace.
Whoever works righteousness, whether male orfemale, while he is a
true believer; verily, to him We will give a good l(fe [in this world
with respect, contentment, and lawful provision]. And We shall pay
them certainly a reward in proportion to the best ofwhat they used to
do [i. e. Paradise in the Hereafter]. (Qur 'an 16: 97)
Extract the honer hut do nor hreak tlze hive 49

The 'go od l i fe' that is mentioned in this verse refers to having a


fi rmfaith in the promise of our Lord and a steady heart that loves
H im. People who lead this 'good life' will a lso have calm nerves
when afflicted with hardship; they will be satisfied with everything
that befalls them, because it was written for them, and because they
are pleased with Allah as their Lord, with Islam as their Religion, and
with Muhammad as their Prophet and Messenger.

Extract the honey but do not break the hive

Everything that has gentleness in it is beautified, and whatever


lacks it is spoiled. When you meet someone, giving him a bright
smile and a kind word, you are displaying a characteristic of the
truly successful man, a characteristic that even a bee exhibits. When
a bee lands on a flower (doing so for a practical purpose) it does not
destroy it, because Allah rewards gentleness with that which H e
does not give for harshness. There are certain people whose
personalities are like magnets, attracting everyone who is nearby,
simply because they are loved for their gentle talk, their good
manners, and their noble deeds.
Winning the friendship of others is an art that is mastered by
those that are noble and pious; a circle of people constantly surrounds
them. Their mere presence in a gathering is a bl essing, and when they
are absent they are missed and asked about.
These blessed people have a code of conduct entitled:
IRepel [the evil} with ane which is betler [i. e. A llah ordered the
faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse
those who treat them badly}, then veri(v.' He, between whom and you
there was enmity, [will become} as though he was a close friend.
(Qur 'an 4 1 : 34)
50 Verily, in the rememhrance (/'A llah do hearts.find rest

They suck out malice from others with their sincerity,


forgiveness, and gentleness. They forget evil that was enacted upon
them and preserve the memory of kindnesses received. Biting, harsh
words may be aimed at them, but such words pass by their ears
without entering and continue on their path without ever retuming.
They are in a state of calmness. People in general, and Muslims in
particular, are safe from suffering any haim at their bands. The
Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"The Muslim i s the person whose tongue and hand do
not harm other Muslims. And the Believer is he whom
others trust, with their blood and wealth. "
H e (bpuh) also said:
"Verily, A llah ordered me to keep relations with those
that cut me off, to forgive the one who does an inj ustice
with me, and to give to those who withhold from me."
Those who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, A llah loves
the good-doers. (Qur 'an 3: 134)
Give to such people glad tidings of an imminent reward in this
world, in terms of peace and tranquility.
Also give glad tidings to them of a great reward in the H ereafter,
o f Paradise, wherein they will be in cl ose proximity to their forgiving
Lord.

Verily, in the remembrance of


A llah do hearts find rest

Verily in the remembrance o.f A llah do hearts .find rest)


,

(Qur 'an 13: 28)


Truthfulness is beloved by Allah and is purifying soap for the
heart. And there is no deed that gives such pleasure to the heart, or
has greater reward, than the remembrance of Allah.
Verifv, in the rememhrance qf'A llah do hearts_find rest 51

Therefore remember Me, and I will remember you. . .


(Qur 'an 2: 152)
Remembrance of Allah is His paradise on earth, and whoever
does not enter it will not enter the Paradise of the Hereafter.
Remembrance is not only a safe haven from the problems and
worries of this world, but it is also the short and easy path to
achieving u ltimate success. Read the various revealed texts that refer
to the remembrance of Allah, and you will appreciate its benefits.
When you remember Allah, clouds of wony and fear are driven
away, and the mountains that make up your problems are b lown
away.
We should not be surprised when we hear that people who
remember Allah are at peace. What is truly surprising is how the
negligent and unmindful survive without remembering Him.
[They are} dead, l(feless, and they know not when they will be raised
up. }> (Qur 'an 1 6: 21)
O' whosoever complains of sleepless nights and is in shock over
his misfortune, call out His Holy Name.
Do you knotv of any that is similar to Him l [There is nothing like
unto Him and He is the All-Hearer, the A ll-Seer}.
(Qur 'an 1 9: 65)
To the degree that you remember Allah, your heart will be calm
and cheerful. His remembrance carries with it the meaning of total
dependence upon Him, of turning to Him for aid, of having good
thoughts about Him, and of waiting for victory from H im. Truly, H e
i s near when supplicated: H e hears when H e i s called and H e answers
when He is invoked, so humble yourself before Him and ask of H i m
sincerely. Repeat H is beautiful blessed name, and mention Him as
being alone worthy of worship. Mention His praises, supplicate to
H im, and ask forgiveness from H im: you will then find - by the will
of Allah - happiness, peace, and illumination.
52 Or do they enry menfor lrhat A llah has given".

!So A llah gave them the reward of this world, and the excellent
reivard of the Hereafier. (Qur 'an 3: 148)

Or do they envy 1nen for what Allah


has given them of His Bounty?

Or do they envy men for what Allah has given them ofHis Bounty?
(Qur 'an 4: 54)
Jealousy is a disease that wreaks havoc not only on the mind, but
also on the body. It is said that there is no repose for the jealous one
and that he is an enemy wearing the garb of a friend. In doing justice
to the disease ofj ealousy, one can say that it is a fair one, for it begins
with its bearer, killing him first.
I forbid both you and myself from jealousy, because before we
can show mercy to others we must first show it to ourselves. By being
j ealous of others, we are feeding misery with our flesh and blood and
w e are giving our sound sleep to others.
The jealous person lights a fire and then jumps into it. Jealousy
begets grief, pain, and suffering, thus destroying what was once a
calm and vi1iuous life.
The curse of the j ealous one is that he con tests fate and contends
that his Creator is unjust.
How like a disease is jealousy, yet unlike other <liseases - the
one afflicted by it receives no reward in the Hereafter. The jealous
person shall remain in fury until the day he dies, or until the good
fortune of others departs from them. Everyone can be reconciled
except the jealous one , because reconciliation with him requires that
the b lessings of Allah are removed from you or that you give up your
talents and good qualities. Tf you were to do this, then perhaps he
would become happy despite himself. We seek refuge in Allah from
the evil of the jealous one, a person who becomes like a black
A ccept life as it is 53

poisonous snake, tinding no repose until it releases its venom into an


innocent body.
So stay far away from jealousy and seek refuge in Allah from the
jealous person, because he is constantly watching you.

Accept life as it is

The pleasures of life are short-lived, and more often than not,
they are followed by sorrow. Life means responsibility, a joumey
wherein change is constant and difficulties are relentless in their
onslaught.
You will not find a father, a wife, or a friend who is free from
problems. Allah has willed for this world to be filled with two
opposites: good and evil, righteousness and corruption, happiness
and misery. Thus goodness, uprightness, and happiness are for
Paradise; evil, corruption, and misery are for the Fire. The Prophet
(bpuh) said:
"This world is cursed along with all that is in it, except
for these: the remembrance of Allah, what fol lows it
(i.e. good deeds and whatever Allah loves), the scholar,
and the student. "
So live according to your reality without always envisioning the
ideal life, one that is free from worry and toil. Accept life as it is and
adapt accordingly to all circumstances. You will not find in this world
such things as the flawless companion or the perfect situation,
because flawlessness and perfection are qualities that are foreign to
this life. It is necessary for us to make amends: to take what is easy
and leave what is difficult; and very frequently, to overlook the faults
and mistakes of others.
54 Find consolarion by rememhering the t.?fflicted

Find consolation by remembering the affeicted

Look around you, to the right and to the left. Do you not see the
afflicted and the unfortunate? In every house there is mouming and
upon every cheek run tears.
How many tribulations and how many people persevere with
patience? You are not alone in your troubles, which are few
compared to those of others. How many sick people remain
bedridden for years while suffering from unspeakable pain?
How many have not seen the light of the sun for years due to
their imprisonment, having knowledge of nothing but the four
comers of their cell?
How many men and women have lost their dear children in the
prime of youth?
How many people are troubled or tormented?
Find consolation with those that are worse off than you; know
that this life is l ike a prison for the believer, an abode of grief and
sadness. In the moming castles are bustling with inhabitants; then in
an instant, disaster occurs, and they are empty and desolate. Life can
be peaceful, the body in good health, wealth abundant, and children
healthy; and yet in only a matter of days, poverty, death, separation,
and sickness can all take their place.
And you dwelt in the dwellings ofmen who wronged themselves, and
it was clear to you how We had dealt with them. And We put forth
[many} parables for you) (Qur 'an 14: 45)
You must adapt like the experienced camel, which manages,
when necessary, to kneel upon a rock. You must also compare your
difficulties with the difficulties of those around you, and with those
that have come befo re you: you should realize that you are in good
shape relative to them, and that you have merely been pricked by tiny
difficulties. So praise Allah for His kindness, be thankful for what He
The praye r . . . the prayer 55

has left for you, seek recompense from Him for what He has taken,
and seek consolation with those that are afflicted.
You have a perfect example in the Prophet (bpuh). The entrails
of a camel were placed upon his head; his feet bled; his face was
fractured; he was besieged in a mountain pass until he was forced to
eat tree leaves; he was driven out of Makkah ; his front tooth was
broken in battle; his innocent wife was accused of wrongdoing;
seventy of his Companions were killed; he was bereaved of his son
and of most ofhis daughters; he would tie a stone around his stomach
to I essen the pangs of hunger; and he was accused of being a poet, a
magician, a soothsayer, a madman, and a liar - all at the same time .
Yet Allah protected him throughout these severe trials and
tribulations. Prophet Zakariyah (Zacharia) was killed, Prophet Yaya
(John) was slaughtered, Prophet Moosa (Moses) was afflicted with
great trials, Prophet lbraheem (Abraham) was thrown in the fire,
(may peace be upon them all), and the Imams of righteousness
followed them upon this path. 'Umar was assassinated, as was
'Uthmaan and 'Ali (may Allah be pleased \\ith them all ) . Many
scholars of the past have been flogged, imprisoned, or tortured.
Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such [trials} as
came to those who passed away befare you ? They were afflicted with
severe povert}1, ailments and were shaken) (Qur 'an 2: 2 1 4)

The prayer . . the prayer


.

O ' you who believe ! Seek help in patience and the Prayer.
(Qur 'an 2: 153)
If you are beset with fear and anxieties, stand up right now and
pray: your soul will find comfort and solace. The prayer - as long as
you perform it sincerely with a wakeful heart - is guaranteed to have
this effect for you.
56 A llah [ A lone} is su.fficient for us . . .

Whenever the Prophet (bpuh) was afflicted with hardship, he


would say:
"O' Bilal ! Give us comfort and call for the prayer. "
The prayer was his j oy and pleasure; it was the delight of his eye.
I have read biographies of many righteous people, who would
always turn to prayer when they were surrounded by difficulties and
hardship, people who would pray until their strength, will, and
resolution returned t o them.
The Prayer of Fear (which is performed during battle) was
prescribed in situations wherein limbs are severed, skulls fly, and
souls depart from their bodies - a time when strength and resolution
can only be derived from heartfelt prayer.
This generation, which is consumed by psychological
sicknesses, must return to the Mosque, going there to perform
prostration and to seek Allah 's pleasure. I f we do not do this, tears
will bum our eyes and grief will destroy our nerves.
B y earnestly performing the five daily prayers, we achieve the
greatest of blessings: atonement for our sins and an increase in rank
with our Lord. Prayer is also a potent remedy for our sicknesses, for it
instills faith in our souls. As for those that keep away from the
Mosque and away from prayer, for them are unhappiness,
wretchedness, and an embittered life.
For them is destruction, and A llah will make their deeds vain)
(Qur 'an 4 7: 8)

A llah [Alone] is sufficient for us, and He


is the hest Disposer of af(airs [for us]

Allah [Alone} is su.fficient for us, and He is the best Disposer of


a_ffairs [for us}. (Qur 'an 3: 1 73)
A llah [ Alonej is szfticien tfor us. . . 57

By leaving. your affairs to Allah, by depending upon H im, by


trusting in His promise, by being pleased with His decree, by
thinking favorably of Him, and by waiting patiently for His help, you
reap some of the greater fruits of faith and display the more
prominent characteristics ofthe believer. When you incorporate these
qualities into your character, you will be at peace conceming the
future, because you will depend on your Lord for everything. As a
result, you will find care, help, protection, and victory.
When Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham) was p laced in the fire, he
said, "Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and he is the Best Disposer
of affairs (for us) . " Thereupon, Allah made the fire to be cool, safe,
and peaceful for Ibraheem. When the Prophet Muhammad (bpuh)
and his Companions were threatened by the impending attack of the
enemy, they said words that are related in the first part of this verse:
"A llah [Alone} is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of
affairs [for us}. " So they returned with Grace and Bountyfrom A llah.
No harm touched them; and they followed the good Pleasure af
Allah. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty. (Qur 'an 3: 1 73- 74)
No person by himself is capable of fighting against the current o f
misfortune, nor can h e fend offthe blows of disaster when they strike.
This is because man was created weak and fragi le. However, when i n
times of difficulty, the believer places his dependency and trust with
his Lord; he knows that all difficulties can be overcome.
And put your trust in A llah if you are believers indeed.
(Qur 'an 5: 23)
O' you who wish to be sincere to yourselves: depend upon the
All-Mighty, the All-Rich to save you from calamity and disaster. Live
your lives according to this precept: Allah Alone is sufficient for us,
and He is the Best Disposer of our affairs. If you have meager means,
if you are deep in debt, or if you are in any kind of worldly difficulty,
call out: "Allah Alone is sufficient for us, and H e is the Best Disposer
58 Say [ 0 Muhammad]: Trave/ in the land. . .

of our affairs . "


I f you face your enemy and are alarmed, or i f you fear the
misdeeds of the oppressor, say aloud: "Allah Alone is sufficient for
us, and H e is the B est Disposer of our affairs. "
But Sufficient is your lord as a Guide and Helpe1
(Qur 'an 25: 31)

Say [O ' Muhammad}: Trave! in the land. . .

Say [O ' Muhammad}: Trave! in the land. . ) (Qur 'an 6: 11)


T here is one activity worthy of mention here, because it both
gives p leasure and removes dark clouds that may hang over you;
namely, for you to travel through the lands, observe the open book of
creation, and appreciate all of its wonders. During your joumeys, you
can see gardens of splendor and beautiful green meadows. Leave
your home and contemplate that which surrounds you. Climb
mountains, traverse valleys, ascend trees, and drink sweet, pure
spring water. Thereupon, you will find your soul to be free like the
hird that sings and swims in the sky in perfect rapture. Leave your
home and remove the b lack blindfold from your eyes, and then travel
through the spacious lands of Allah, remembering and glorifying
Him.
To isolate yourself to the confines of your own room, while
passing the hours away with lethal idleness, is a certain path to self
destruction. Your romn is not the only place in the world, and you are
not the sole inhabitant of it. Then why do you surrender yourself to
misery and solitude? Call out with your eyes, ears, and heart:
March forth, whether you are light [being healthy, young and
wealthy} or heavy [being il/, old and poor}. (Our 'an 9: 41)
Come, recite the Qur'an beside a mountain brook or among the
birds as they sing.
Patience is mostfitting 59

Traveling to different lands i s an acti vit y which doctors


recommend, especially for those who are feeling downcast,
constricted by the narrowness oftheir own rooms. Therefore go forth
and find delight in traveling.
And they think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the
earth, [saying} : 'Our Lord! You have not created [all} this without
purpose, glory to You ! ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 91)

Patience is most fitting

Those who meet hardship with a strong bearing and a patient


countenance are in the minority. But we must consider this, though it
may seem obvious: if you or I will not be patient, then what else is
there for us to do? Do you have an alternative solution? Do you know
of any provision that is better than patience?
Those that achieve greatness have to sunnount an ocean of
difficulties and hardships before finally achieving success. Know that
each time you escape a difficulty you will have to fac e another.
Through this constant conflict, you must arm yourself with p atience
and a strong trust in Allah.
This is the way of the noble-minded: they face difficulties with
firm resolution, and they wrestle hardship to the ground.
Therefore be patient and know that your patience is only through
Allah. Have the patience of one who is confident of forthcoming
ease, of one who knows that there will be a good ending. and of one
who seeks reward from his Lord, hoping, that b y facing d ifficulties,
he will find expiation for his sins. Have patience, no mat1er w hat the
difficulty and no matter how dark the road ahead seem. For truly,
with patience comes victory, and with difficulty relief fol l ows close
behind.
60 Do not carry the ireight qf' the globe 011 your shoulders

After having read biographies of some successful people from


the past, I became arnazed at the amount of patience they displayed,
at their ability to bear heavy burdens only to emerge as stronger
human beings. Hardship fell upon their heads like the lashing of
freezing rain and yet they were as firm as mountains. And then, after
a short time had passed, they were rewarded for their patience with
success.

Do not carry the weight of


the globe on your shoulders

In a certain class of people there rages an intemal war, one that


doesn't take place on the battlefield, but in one's bedroom, one's
office, one 's own home. It is a war that results in ulcers or an increase
in blood pressure. E verything frustrates these people: they become
angry at inflation, furious because the rains came late, and
exasperated when the value of their currency fal ls. They are forever
perturbed and vexed, no matter what the reason.
They think that every cry is against them) (Qur 'an 63: 4)
My advice to you is this: do not carry the weight of the globe on
your shoulders. Let the ground carry the burden of those things that
happen. Some people have a heart that is like a spange, absorbing all
kinds of fa llacies and misconceptions. It is troubled by the most
insignificant of tnatters; it is the kind of heart that is sure to destroy its
possessor.
Those who are principled and are upon the true path are not
shaken by hardship ; instead, hardship helps to strengthen their
resolve and faith. B u t the reverse is true for the weak-hearted: when
they face adversity or trouble, it is only their level of fear that
increases. At a time of calamity, there is nothing more beneficial to
you than having a brave heart. The one who has such a heart is self-
Do not he crushed by irlwr is insign(ficant 61

possessed he has firm faith and cool nerves. On the other hand,

during the course of any given day, the coward slaughters himself
many times with apprehensions and presentiments of impending
doom. Therefore, if you desire for yourself a stable life, face all
situations with bravery and perseverance.
A nd let not those who have no certainty offa ith discourage J1ou" )
(Qur 'an 30: 60)
Be more resolute than your circumstances and more ferocious
than the winds of calamity. May mercy descend upon the weak
hearted, for how often it is that they are shaken by the smallest of
tremors.
!And verily, you will find them the greediest of mankind for !(fe. . .
(Qur 'an 2: 96)
As for those who are resolute, they receive help from their Lord
and are confident of His promise.
He sent down calmness and tranquility upon them . . .

(Qur 'an 48: 1 8)

Do not be crushed lJy what is insignificant

Many are those that are distressed not b y pressing matters of


great import, but by minor trifles.
Observe the Hypocrites and how weak they are in their
resolution. The Qur'an relates to us some of their sayings:
qThose who stayed away [from Tabuk expedition} rejoiced in their
staying behind the Messenger ofAllah; they hated to strive and.fight
with their properties and their lives in the Cause o,fAllah, and they
said: 'March not fiJrth in the heat _ J (Qur 'an 9: 8 I)
i 'Grant me leave [to be exempted.flom Jihad} and put me not into
trial. 'l (Qur 'an 9: 49)
62 Do not be crushed by what is insignfftcant

A nd a band ofthem ask.for permission ofthe Prophet [Muhammad}


saying: 'Truly, our homes lie open [to the enemy} '. And they lay not
open. They but wished to flee) (Qur 'an 33: 13)
' We fear lest same misfortune of a disaster may befall us. '
(Qur 'an 5: 52)
And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease
said: 'Allah and His Afessenger promised us nothing but delus ions! '
(Qur 'an 33: 12)
H o w wretched are the souls of such people!
Their principal concems are for their stomachs, cars, houses, and
castles. They never once raise their eyes to a li fe of ideals and virtues;
the extent of their knowledge is their cars, clothes, shoes, and food.
Some people are distressed day and night, because of a
disagreement with the ir spouse, son, or relative, or because they have
had to forbear criticis1n, or because of some other trivial event. Such
are the calamities of these people. They have no aspiration to higher
principles or goals to keep them busy, and they have no noble
ambition in their lives to an end for which they can strive day and
night. I t has been said, 'When water leaves a container, it is then
fil led with air ' . Therefore reflect on that which gives you cause for
concem or anxiety, and ask yourself this: does it merit your energies
and toils? This is an i ndispensable question, because whatever it is
that causes your anxiety, you are, with mind, flesh, and blood, giving
it energy and time. And if it does not merit your energy and time, you
wi I l have squandered a great deal of your most precious resources.
Psychologists say that you should judge everything in proportion to
its true value and then put it in its proper place. More truthful than
this is the saying of Allah:
Indeed Allah has ser a measure for all things) (Qur 'an 65: 3)
So give to each situation according to its size, weight, measure,
and importance. And stay away from immoderation or from
Be content 1rith that ll'hich A llah has Kiven _l'OU" . 63

exceeding the proper bounds.


Take from the example of the Prophet's Companions, whose
sole concern was to give their pledge of allegiance under the tree and
thus obtain the pleasure of Allah. With them was a man whose
concem was focused on a missing camel, a preoccupation that caused
him to miss the pledge of allegiance - and consequently, he was
deprived of the rewards that were reaped by the others.
Therefore do not be preoccupied with matters that are
insignificant. lf you follow this advice, you will find that most of
your worries will have left you.

Be content with that which Allah has gi,ven


you and you will be the richest of people

Wealth, appearance, children, house, and talents - you must be


content with your share in these things:
So hold that which I have given you and be of the grateful.
(Qur 'an 7: 144)
Most Islamic scholars and pious Muslims of the early
generations of Islam were poor; needless it is t o say, then, that they
did not have beautiful houses or nice cars. Yet, despite these
disadvantages, they led fruitful lives, and they benefited mankind,
not by some miracle, but because they used all that they were given,
and spent their time in the correct way. Hence they were blessed in
their lives, their time, and their talents.
On the contrary, there are many people who have been bestowed
with wealth, children, and all forms of blessings, yet these blessings
have been the very reason for their misery and ruin. They deviated
from what their inbom instincts were telling them, namely, that
material things are not everything. Look at those that have obtained
degrees from world-renowned universities, and yet they are paragons
64 Be content with that which Allah has given you . . .

of obscurity. Their t alents and abilities remain unused. Meanwhile,


others who are limited in the scope of their knowledge have managed
t o make mountains out of what they have been given, benefiting both
themselves and society.
I f you are a seeker ofhappiness, be satisfied with the looks Allah
has favored you with, with your family situation, with the sound of
your voice, with the level of your understanding, and with the
amount of your salary. Certain educators go further than this by
saying that you should imagine being contented with even less than
you actually have now.
Here for you is a list of those who have shone from our Islamic
heritage despite each being challenged by various disadvantages:
'Ataa ibn Rabal). was a world-renowned scholar of his time. He
was not only a freed slave and snub-nosed, but he was also paralyzed.
Al-Al:maf ibn Qays was famous among the Arabs for his singular
level of patience. He achieved that farne despite being emaciated,
humpbacked, with c rooked legs and a fragile frame.
Al-A ' mash was among the most famous scholars ofhadith in his
time. He was a freed slave, he had bad eyesight, and he was poor. His
c lothes were ripped, his appearance was disheveled, and he lived in
straitened circumstances.
In faet, every Prophet was at one time or another a shepherd.
Dawood (David) was a blacksmith, Zakariah (Zacharia) a carpenter,
and Idrees (Enoch) a tailor; and yet they were the best of mankind.
Therefore your Yalue is in your abilities, good deeds, manners,
and contributions to society. Do not feel grief, then, over that which
has passed you by i n life in terms of good looks, wealth, or family;
and be content with what Allah has allotted for you.
It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this
world) (Qur 'an 43: 32)
Be content with that 1rhich Allah has given you. . . 65

Remind yourself o f Paradise, which i s as wide as are the


Heavens and the Earth.
If you are hungry in this world, if you are sad, ill or oppressed,
remember the eternal bliss of Paradise. If you do this, then your
losses are really profits and the hardships you face are really gifts.
The most wise of people are those that work for the Hereafter,
because it is better and everlasting. And the most foolish of mankind
are those that see this world as their etemal abo de - in it reside all of
their hopes. You will find such people to be the most grief-stricken of
all when faced with calamity. They will be the most affected by
worldly loss simply because they see nothing beyond the
insignificant lives that they lead. They see and think only of this
impermanent life. They wish for nothing to spo il them in their state of
felicity. Were they to remove the veil of ignorance from their eyes,
they would commune with themselves about the etemal abode - its
bliss, pleasures, and castles. They would listen attentively when they
are informed through the Qur'an and the Sunnah about its
description. Indeed, that is the abode that deserves our attention and
merits our striving and our toiling, so that we may achieve the best of
it.
Have we reflected at length about the description of the
inhabitants of Paradise? Illness does not befall them, grief does not
c01ne near them, they die not, they remain young, and their attire
remains both perfect and clean. They are in a beautiful h ome. I n
Paradise i s found that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and n o
human mind has imagined. The rider travels under a tree in Paradise
for one hundred years and yet he still does n ot reach its end. The
length of a tent in Paradise is sixty miles. Jts rivers are constant, its
castles are lofty, and its fruits are not only close-by, but are also easily
picked.
66 Tlws We have made you ajust nation

Therein will be a running spring. Therein will be thrones raised


high, and cups set at hand, and cushions set in rows, and rich carpets
[all] spread out. (Qur 'an 88: 12- 1 6)
The happiness of Paradise will be absolute. So why do we not
contemplate this faet?
I f Paradise is our final destination - and we ask Allah for
Paradise - then the hardships of this world are less heavy than they
may seem, so let the hearts of the afflicted ones find solace.
0' you who live in poverty, or are afflicted with calamity, work
righteous deeds so that you shall live in Allah's Paradise.
Peace be upon you, because you persevered in patience! Excellent
indeed is the .final home! (Qur 'an 13: 24)

Thus We have made you a just nation

Thus We have made you a just nation) (Qur 'an 2: 143)


B oth your conscience and your Religion demand that you be
just, which means that you should neither exaggerate nor understate,
neither go into excess nor do too little. Whoever seeks happiness
should be j ust, regardless of whether he is in an angry, a sad, or a
j oyful mood. Exaggeration in our dealings with others is
unacceptable. The best course is the middle course. Whoever follows
his desires will likely magnify the importance of any given situation,
always making a big deal out of nothing. He will feel jealousy and
malice toward others. Since he lives in a world of exaggeration and
imagination, he will envisage everyone else to be against him, even
to the extent that he feels others to be always conspiring to destroy
him. B ecause of this, he lives under a dark cfoud, constantly
overcome by fear and apprehension.
Living according to hearsay and superstition is prohibited in our
Religion.
Being sad is not encouraged in our religion 67

They think that every cry is against them) (Qur 'an 63 : 4)


More often than not, what you fear will happen in the future does
not end up taking place. Here is something you should try: when you
fear something, imagine that the worst possible outcome takes place,
and then train yourself to feel prepared and contented with that
outcome. If you do this, you will find that you have saved yourself
from apprehensions and superstitions that would otherwise have
caused you much grief.
Lend your attention to each matter i n proportion to its
importance. In any given situation do not exaggerate mountains from
molehills; rather, keep in mind your objectivity and fairness. Do not
follow false suspicion or the deceitful illusion o f the mi rage, but be
balanced. Listen to the balance of love and hate as explained by the
Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him):
"Love the one who is beloved to you in due moderation,
for perhaps the day will come when you will abhor him.
And hate the one whom you detest in due moderation,
for perhaps the day will arrive when you will come to
love him. "
Perhaps Allah will make .friendship between you and those whom
you hold as enemies. And Allah has power [over all things}, and
A llah is O.ft-Forgiving, Most Merci.ful. (Qur 'an 60: 7)

Being sad is not encouraged in our religi,on

So do not become weak [against your enemy}, nor be sad. j . .

(Qur 'an 3: 1 3 9)
And grieve not over them, and be not distressed because of it'hat
they plot) (Qur 'an 1 6: 1 2 7)
Be not sad, surely A llah is with us) (Qur 'an 9: 40)
Referring to true believers, Allah informs us that:
68 Beh1g sad is not encouraged in our religion

. . . upon such shal/ come no fem: nor shall they grieve.f?


(Qur 'an 2: 38)
Sadness enervates the soul 's will to aet and paralyzes the body
into inactivity. Sadness prevents one from action instead of
compell ing one towards it. The heart benefits nothing through grief.
The most beloved thing to the Devil is to make the worshipper sad in
arder to prevent him from continuing on his path. Allah, the Exalted,
says:
Secret counsels [conspiracies} are only from Shay{aan [Satan], in
order that he may cause grief to the believers. (Qur 'an 58: 1 0)
I n the fol lowing hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"In a company of three, it is forbidden for two to hold
secret counsel to the exclusion of the third, since doing
so will be a cause of sadness for him."
Contrary to what some believe (those who have an extreme
ascetic hent), the believer should not seek out sadness, because
sadness is a harmful condition that afflicts the soul . The Muslim must
repel sadness and fight it in any way that is permissible in our
Religion.
There is no real benefit to sadness; the Prophet (bpuh) sought
refuge from it in the foliowing supplication:
"O' A llah, I se ek refuge in you from anxiety and grief. "
Grief is coupled with anxiety in this hadith. The difference
between the two is that i f a bad feeling is related to what is going to
happen in the future. then one is feeling anxiety. And if the cause of
this feeling concems the past, then one is feeling grief. Both of them
weaken the heart, causing inactivity and a decrease in will power.
Despite what has been mentioned above, grief may sometimes
be both inevitable 3nd necessary. When they enter Paradise, its
dwellers will say:
Being sad is 1101 encouraged in our religion 69

All the praises and thank(j be to Allah, Who has removed from us
[all} griefl (Qur 'an 35: 34)
This verse implies that they were afflicted with grief in this li fe,
just as they were afflicted with other forms ofhardship, both of which
were out of their control. So whenever one is overcome by grief and
there is no way to avoid it, one is rewarded, because grief is a form of
hardship, and the believer is rewarded for going through hardship.
Nonetheless, the believer must ward off grief with supplication and
other practical means.
As for the saying of Allah, the Almighty:
Nor [is there blame} on those who came to you to be provided with
mounts, and when you said: 'I can .find no mounts for you, ' they
turned back, while their eyes overflowing with tears ofgrief that they
could not find anything to spend. (Qur 'an 9: 92)
They were not praised for their grief in itself, but for what that
grief indicated and pointed to - namely, strong faith. This occurred
when they remained behind during one of the Prophet's expeditions,
due to their inability to find the necessary resources needed to make
the trip. The verse also exposed the hypocrites , because they did not
feel grief when they remained behind.
Therefore the good kind of grief is that which stems from
missing out an opportunity to do a good deed or from performing a
sin. When one feels sad because he was negl igent in fulfilling the
rights of Allah, he shows a characteristic of a person who is on the
right path. As for the hadith,
"Whatever befalls the believer in terms of anxiety,
hardship or grief, Allah will make it an atonement for
(some ot) his sins,"
- it indicates that grief is a trial with which the bel iever is aftlicted,
and through which some of his sins are atoned for. However, it does
not indicate that grief is something to be sought after; the believer
70 BeinR sad is not encouraged in our religion

should not seek out means of tinding grief, thinking that he is


performing an aet of worship. Tf this were the case, then the Prophet
(bpuh) would have been the first to apply this principle. But he didn't
search out for misery; rather, his face was always smiling, his heart
was content, and he was continually joyful.
As for the hadith of Hind, "He was continually sorrowful," it is
considered to be unsubstantiated by scholars of hadith, because
among its narrators i s someone who is unknown. Not only is the
hadith weak because of its chain of narrators; it is also weak because
it is contrary to how the Prophet (bpuh) really was.
How could he h ave been continually in grief when Allah had
informed him that he was forgiven for everything (guaranteeing his
entry into Paradise) and had protected him from feeling grief over
matters pertaining to this life: for example, Allah forbade him from
feeling grief over the actions of the disbelievers? How could he have
fel t grief when all the time his heart was filled with the remembrance
of Allah, and when he was at peace with Allah 's promise? In faet, he
was always pleasant and his teeth were always visible due to his
constant smiles. Whoever delves deeply into his life will know that
he came to remove fal sehood and to eradicate anxiety, confusion, and
grief. H e came to free our souls from the tyranny of doubt, disbelief,
confusion, and disorder. He came to save our souls from destruction.
S o many indeed are the favors that were bestowed upon mankind
through him (Blessings and Peace be upon him).
And as for the all eged hadith, "Verily, Allah loves all sad
hearts, " the chain of its narrators is unknown, so it is not an authentic
hadith, especially in Yiew of the faet that the basic princip les of our
religion are contrary to its import. Even if we were to suppose the
hadith to be authentic. then its meaning would be that sadness is one
of the hardships of l i fe imposed upon the worshipper as a form of
trial. And ifthe worshipper is tested by this trial, and if he perseveres
Being sad is not encouraged in our religion 71

through patience, then Al1ah loves him. As for those who have
praised melancholy and have lauded its many virtues (while claiming
that our religion encourages it) then they are very mistaken. In faet,
every text from revelation that touches upon sadness forbids it and
orders its opposite: namely, that we should be c ontent with the mercy
and blessings of Allah, and happy with that which has been sent with
the Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him).
Those who incline towards extremes in asceticism also relate the
foliowing narration:
"If Allah loves one of his slaves, He makes that slave's
heart that of a weeper. And if he hates one of his slaves,
then he places a flute in his heart (thus making him
constantly light and happy). "
First, we must note that this is an Israelite tradition, which is
claimed to be found in the Torah. Nevertheless, it does have a correct
meaning since, truly, the believer feels grief due to his sins and the
evildoer is ever playful and frivolous, light and j oyful. So if the hearts
of the faithful grieve, then it is only due to opportun iti es lost in terms
of righteous deeds or because of sins committed . This is contrary to
the sadness of the evildoers, whose grief is caused by losing out on
physical pleasure or worldly benefit. Their yeamings, anxieties, and
sadness are always for these ends and for nothing else.
In this verse, Allah says of his Prophet Israa ' eel (Israel):
And he lost his sight because of the sorrow that he was
suppressing) (Qur 'an 12: 84)
Here we are informed of his grief over losing his beloved son.
Simply infom1ing about something does not i n itself signify either
approval or disapproval of that thing. The faet is that we have been
ordered to seek refuge from sadness, as it is a heavy cloud that hangs
above its victim, and is a barrier that prevents o ne from advancing to
higher aims.
72 Take a moment to refiect

There is no doubt that sadness is a trial and a hardship, and is in


some ways similar to sickness. However, it is not a stage, level, or
condition that the pious should actively seek out.
You are required to seek the means of happiness and peace, to
ask Allah to grant you a good life, one that gives you a clear
conscience and a mind at peace. The achievement of this is an early
reward, a point that i s underscored by the saying of some, "In this
world is a paradise, and whoever does not enter it shall not enter the
Paradise of the Hereafter. "
And we ask Allah to open our hearts to the light offaith, to guide
our hearts to His straight path, and to save us from a miserable and
wretched life.

Take a moment to reflect

Let us make these supplications, their purpose being to eliminate


hardship, anxiety and grief:
" There is none worthy of worship except A llah, the Ever
Forbearing, the Most Great. There is none worthy ofworship except
A llah, the Lord of the Tremendous Throne. There is none worthy of
worship except A llah, the Lord of the Heavens, the Lord af the earth,
and the Lord of the Noble Throne. O ' Ever-Living, and O ' One Who
sustains and protects all that exists, there is none worthy of worship
except You, and by Jour mercy do we seek Your aid. "
"O ' A llah, Your mercy do I hope for, so do not leave me to
myselJ: not even for the blinking of an eye. And make wellfor me all
of my affairs. There is none worthy af worship except You. "
"/ seek.forgivenessfrom Allah, none is worthy ofworship except
Him. He is the Ever-Living and the One who sustains and protects all
that exists, and I turn to Him in repentance. "
Smile 73

"There is none worthy af worship except You, and how pe1fect


you are; verily, I was among the lvrongdoers. "
"O ' A llah, verily I am Your slave, the son of Your slaves: my
.forelock is in Your hand, Your arder concerning me will be executed
and just is Your judgment upon me. I ask You by all of Your names
that_vou have named Yourselfwith, have revealed in Your hook, have
taught to ane of Your creation, ar is in Your knowledge only (from the
matters ofthe unseen) - make the Qur 'an the spring ofmy heart, the
light o.f my chest, the remover af my sadness, and the purger of my
anxiety. "
"O ' A llah, I seek re.fuge in you from anxiety and grief, from
inability and laziness, from avarice and cowardice, from being
engrossed by debt, and from being overpowered by men . "
"Allah (A lone) is Sufficient.for us, and He is the Best Disposer of
a.ffairs (for us). "

Smile

Laughing moderately can aet as a cure or as therapy for


depression and sadness. I t has a strong intluence on keeping the soul
light and the heart clear. Abu Darda' (may Allah be pleased with him)
said, "I make it a practice to laugh in order to give rest and comfort to
my heart. And the noblest of people, Muhammad (bpuh), would
laugh, sometimes until his molars became visible. "
Laughing is an efficacious way to achieve comfort and light
heartedness, but keep in mind that, as in other things, you should not
be immoderate. The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Do not laugh excessively, for verily, excessive laughter
kills the heart. "
What is called for is moderation.
74 Smile

"And ifyou smile in the face of your brother, then that is


a form of charity. "
So he, Sulayman, smiled, amused by her speech.
(Qur 'an 2 7: 1 9)
Also, when you laugh, you should not do so in a mocking or
jeering fashion:
But when he came to them with Our Aayaat [proofs, evidences,
verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.] behold! They laughed at
them) (Qur 'an 43: 47)
Among the pleasures of Paradise will be laughter:
But this Day [the Day ofResurrection} those who believe will laugh
at the disbelievers) (Qur 'an 83: 34)
The Arabs would hold in high esteem a person who was known
for his smile and laughter. They believed this to be a sign of a
generous personality and of a person who has a noble disposition and
a clear mind.
The truth is that the principles of Islam are based on moderation
and on good measure, whether it is in marters of belief, worship,
manners, or conduct. Islam does not condone a rigid, frowning
expression, nor does it condone a constant playful giddiness; rather
what it does promote is seriousness when it is called for, and a
reasonable level of light-heartedness when it is called for.
Bearing a gloomy mien and a frowning countenance are marks
of a lowly character, a troubled nature, and hotheadedness.
Then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered way. . )
(Qur 'an 74: 22)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Do not disparage (underestimate) any good deed (no
matter how small it is), even if that deed was to meet
your brother with a friendly countenance. "
AJ:imed Ameen said i n his book Fayq al-Khaa{ir:
Smile 75

"People who are always smiling not only make their own lives
more joyful, but what is more, they are more productive
people in their work and have a greater ability to live up to
their responsibilities. They are more prepared to face
difficulties and to find expedient solutions for them. They are
prolific workers who benefit themselves and others. "
If I were given a choice between having status in society and
plentiful money, and between having a happy, radiant, smiling self, I
would choose the latter. For what is great wealth if it begets misery?
And what is high position if what comes with it is constant
gloominess? And what good is the most beautiful wife if she
transforms her house into a living hell? Much better than her - a
thousand times at least - is a wife who has not reached such a
pinnacle of beauty, but nonetheless has made her house a kind of
paradise.
Consider this imagery: In a sense, the rose is smiling and so is
the forest. The oceans, rivers, the sky, the stars and hirds are all
smiling. Similarly, the human being by his very nature is a smiling
entity, were it not for those things that counteract this natural
disposition, such as greed and selfishness, evils that contribute to his
frowning. As such he is an anomaly and at odds with the natural
harmony of all that surrounds him. Therefore the person whose heart
is sullied cannot see things as they truly are. Every person sees the
world through himself- through his actions, thoughts, and motives.
So if our actions are noble, if our thoughts are pure, and if our
motives are honorable, then the spectacles through which we see the
world will be clean, and the world will be seen by us as it really is -
a beautiful creation. If the spectacles become dirty, and their lenses
stained, then everything will seem to be black and morbid.
There are those souls that are able to tum everything into misery,
whilst there are those that are able to derive happiness from the most
76 Smile

difficult of circumstances. There is the woman whose eyes fall upon


nothing but mistakes. Today is black because a piece of fine china
broke or because the cook put too much salt in the food. Then she
tlares up and curses. and no one in the house escapes from her
execrations. Then there is the man who brings misery upon his own
self and, through his disposition, heaps the same upon others. Any
word that he hears h e interprets in the worst possible way. H e is
affected grave ly by the most insignificant of things that occur to him,
or that have occurred to him through his actions. He is drawn into
misery by profits lost. by profits expected that went unrealized, and
so on. The whole world from his perspective is black, and so he
blackens it for those around him. Such people have much ability to
over-exaggerate the tritles that occur to them. Thus they make
mountains out of molehills. Their ability to do well is negligent, and
they are never happy or content with that which they have, even if
what they have is plenty. No matter how great their possessions, they
will never feel any b I essings from what they have.
Life i s like an art or a science: it needs to be leamed and
cultivated. It is much better for a person to plant love in his life than
to glorify money, using all his might to help it ease its way into his
pocket or into his account. What is life when all its energies are
exploited and used for the sole purpose of accumulating wealth, an
existence where no energy is directed towards the cultivation of
beauty, splendor, and love?
M ost people do not open their eyes to the beauty of li fe, but open
them only to gold or si 1ver. They pass by a lush and luxuriant garden,
a beautiful bed of roses, a flowing river, or a group of singing hirds,
yet they are unmoved by such scenes. All that moves them is the
coming and going of rnoney in to or out of their pockets. Money is but
a means to a happy life. They have reversed this faet, have sold their
happy existence, and have made money to be an end in itself. Our
Smile 77

body has been equipped with eyes to see beauty with, yet we have
trained them to look on nothing but money.
Nothing causes the soul or the face to frown more often and with
more intensity than despondency. If you want to be a smiling person,
wage war with despondency and hopelessness. The door to
opportunity is always open to you and to others, and so is the door to
success. So indoctrinate your mind with hopes of prosperity in the
future.
If you believe that you are inconsequential and have been
created for things of only minor importance, then your achievement
in li fe will never surpass this initial goal. And i f you believe that your
calling in life is to achieve extraordinary feats. you will fee l in you a
determination that can destroy all kinds of barriers. This can be
exemplified as follows. Whoever enters a 1 OOm race will feel tired
the moment he completes it, whereas anyone that enters a 400m race,
will not feel fatigue after passing the 1 OOm or 200m mark. Therefore
the soul gives resolution and will power in proportion to your goal.
Hence you must identify your goal, and let it be high and difficult to
achieve. And never feel despondency as long as everyday you are
taking a new step in its direction. What blocks the soul, making it
frown and placing it in a dark prison? The answer is despondency,
hopelessness, seeing everything as being evil, searching for faults in
others and constantly speaking about the evilness of the world.
B lessed is the one who has a teacher that helps him to develop
his natural abilities and broaden his horizons. The hest teacher is the
one that instills kindness and generosity into his pupil, and teaches
that the noblest of pursuits that one can strive for, is to be a source of
goodness to others, in accordance with one 's abilities. The soul
should be like the sun, radiating light and hope . The heart should be
filled with tenderness, virtue, benevolence, and a genuine love for
spreading goodness to all those that are connected to it.
78 Smile

The smiling soul sees difficulties, and loves to surmount them.


When it sees problems, it smiles, reveling in the opportunity to solve
and overcome them. The frowning soul, when faced with a problem,
magnifies it and belittles its own determination, while spending all its
time justifying. It loves success in life, but is not willing to pay its
price. On every path, it sees a grinning lion. It waits only for gold to
shower down upon it, or to chance upon some treasure in the ground.
Difficult things in life are only relative, for everything is difficult
for the ordinary person, while there is no great difficulty for the
remarkabl e person. While the remarkable person increases in
worthiness by overc01ning obstacles, the weak person increases in
meanness by running away from them. Problems are comparable to a
vicious dog. When it sees you scared or running away, it barks and
follows in pursuit. However, when it sees your scorn, your lack of
concem, and when you shine your eyes in its direction, it gives way
and draws back.
Furthermore, there is nothing more deadly than a feeling of
inferiority, a feeling that makes its holder lose all faith in his
adequacy. So when he embarks upon a project, he is immediately
doubtful of its completion or success and he acts accordingly by
gratifying these doubts. Thus he fails. Having self-confidence is a
noble virtue, and is a pillar of success in life. It is important to note,
though, that there is a vast difference between conceitedness and
confidence. Conceitedness means to rely upon a deceitful
imagination and false pride. Confidence means to rely upon true
abilities; it means fulfilling responsibilities, developing talents and
organizational skil Is.
How much in need we indeed are of a smile, a friendly face,
easy-going manners, and a gentle, generous soul. The Prophet said:
'"Verily, Allah h as revealed to me that you should be
humble, so that none of you should transgress upon
Smile - Pause to re_fiect 79

another, and so that none of you should be arrogant and


proud to another."

Smile - Pause to reflect

When you experienced sadness yesterday, your situation didn 't


get any better by you being sad. Your son fai led in school, and you
became depressed, yet did your depression c hange the faet that he
failed? Your father passed away, and you became downhearted, yet
did that bring him back to life? You lost your business, and you
became saddened. Did this change your situation by transforming
losses into profits?
Do not be sad: You became despondent due to a calamity, and by
doing so, created additional calamities. You became depressed
because of poverty and this only increased the bittemess of your
situation. You became gloomy because of what your enemies said to
you; by entering into that mental state, you unwittingly helped them
in their attack against you. You became sullen because you expected
a particular misfortune, and yet it never came to pass.
Do not be sad: Truly a large mansion wil l not protect you from
the effects of depression; and neither will a beautiful wife, abundant
wealth, a high position, or brilliant children.
Do not be sad: Sadness causes you to imagine poison when you
are really looking at pure water, to see a cactus when you are looking
at a rose, to see a barren desert when you are looking at a lush garden,
and to feel that you are in an unbearable prison when you are living
on a vast and spacious earth.
Do not be sad: You have two eyes, two ears, lips, two hands, two
legs, a tongue, a heart, peace, safety, and a healthy body.
!Then which of the Blessings ofyour Lord i,vill you both [jinns and
men} deny? (Qur 'an 55: 1 3)
80 The blessing <fpain

Do not be sad: You have the true Religion to live by, a house to
live in, bread to eat, 'vater to drink, clothes to wear, a wife to find
comfort with; why then the melancholy?

The blessing of pain

Pain is not always a negative force and it is not something that


you should always hate. At times a person benefits when he feels
pam.
You might remember that, at times when you felt a lot of pain,
you sincerely supplicated and remembered Allah. When he is
studying, the student often feels the pangs of heavy burden,
sometimes perhaps the burden of monotony, yet he eventually leaves
this stage of life a scholar. H e felt burdened with pain at the
beginning but he shined at the end. The aches and pangs of passion,
the poverty and the scom of others, the frustration and anger at
inj ustices - these all cause the poet to write flowing and captivating
verses. This is because he himself feels pain in his heart, in his
nerves, and in his blood, and as a result, he is able to infuse the same
emotions, via his work, into the hearts of others. How many painful
experiences did the best writers have to undergo, experiences that
inspired brilliant works, works that posterity continues to enjoy and
benefit from today.
The student who l i ves the li fe of comfort and repose and who is
not stung by hardships . or who has never been afflicted with calamity
will be an unproductive, lazy, and lethargic person.
Indeed, the poet \vho knows no pain and who has never tasted
bitter disappointment will invariably produce heaps upon heaps of
cheap words. This is because his words pour forth from his tongue
and not from his feelings or emotion, and though he may comprehend
what he has written, his heart and body have not lived the experience.
The hlessing ofpain 81

More worthy and relevant to the aforementioned examples are


the lives of the early believers, who lived during the period of
revelation and who took part in the most important religious
revolution that mankind has ever seen. Indeed, they had greater faith,
nobler hearts, more truthful tongues, and deeper knowledge than
those that came after them: they had all of these because they lived
through pain and suffering, both ofwhich are necessary concomitants
to great revolutions. They felt the pains of hunger, of poverty, of
rejection, of abuse, of banishment from home and country, of
abandonment of all pleasures, of the pains of wounds, and of death
and torture. They were in truth chosen ones, the elite of mankind.
They were models of purity, nobleness, and sacrifice.
That is because they suffer neither thirst norfatigue, nor h unger in
the Cause af Allah, nor they take any step to raise the a nger af
disbelievers nor in.fhct any injury upon an enemy, but is written to
their credit as a deed of righteousness . Sure(v, A llah wastes not the
reward of the doers of good. (Qur 'an 9: 120)
In the history of the world there are those that have produced
their greatest works due to the pain and the suffering that they
experienced. Al-Mutanabbi, when afflicted with a severe fever, wrote
some of his best poetry. An-Nu'maan ibn Mundhir threatened An
Naabighah with death, and that is when the latter produced some of
his best poetry. The well-known line he spoke, roughly translated is:
"Verily, you are the sun, and the other k ings are the stars: for
when the sun rises, no star in the sky is visible. "
In faet there are many examples of those that prospered and
achieved as a result of the suffering they experienced.
Therefore. do not become excessively anxious when you think
of pain, and do not fear suffering. It might well be that through pain
and suffering you will become stronger. And furthermore, for you to
live with a buming and passionate heart that has been stung is purer
82 The blessing o/pain

and nobler than to live the dispassionate existence of a person who


has a cold heart and a shortsighted outlook.
But A llah was averse to their being sentforth, so He made them lag
behind, and it was said [to them}, "Sit you among those who sit [at
home}. " (Qur 'an 9: 46)
The words of a passionate sennon can reach the innermost
depths of the heart and penetrate the deepest regions of the soul,
usually because the one who gives such sermons has himself
experienced pain and suffering.
He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down As-Sakeenah
[calmness and tranquility} upon them, and He rewarded them with a
near vict01y) (Qur 'an 48: 18)
I have read many books of poetry, and a high percentage ofthem
are passionless, without life or soul. This is because their authors
never endured hardship, and because they were composed among
surroundings of comfort. Hence the works of such authors were cold,
l ike b locks of ice.
I have read books filled with sermons that do not shake a hair on
the body of the listener and that lack an atom 's weight of impact. The
orator (whose sermons were put to print) is not speaking with feeling
and sentiment, or in other words, pain and suffering.
They say with their mouths, that which is not in their hearts)
(Qur 'an 3: 167)
Tf you wish to affect and influence others, whether it is with your
speech or with your poetry, or even with your actions, you must first
feel the passion inside of you. You must be moved yourself by the
meanings of what you are trying to convey. Then, and then only, you
will come to realize that you have an influence upon others.
But when We send down water [rain} on it, it is stirred [to life], it
swells and puts forth every lovev kind [of growth}.
(Qur 'an 22: 5)
The hfessing af k11mrledge 83

The blessing of knowledge

And Allah taught you that which you knew not. And Ever-Great is
the Grace of A llah unto you [O ' Muhammad] . (Qur 'an .+: 1 1 3)
Ignorance kills one's conscience and soul.
I admonish you, fest you be ane of the ignorant) (Qur 'an Il: 46)
Knowledge is a light that leads to wisdom. It is life for one's soul
and fuel for one's character.
Is he who was dead [without Faith by ignorance and disbeliej] and
We gave him life [by knowledge and Faith] and setfor h im a light [af
Beliefl whereby he can walk amongst men, like him who is in the
darkness [ofdisbelief,' polytheism and hypocrisy]from which he can
never come out? (Qur 'an 6: 1 22)
Happiness and high-spiritedness come with enlightenment,
because through knowledge, one may fulfill his goals and <liseover
what was previously hidden from him. The soul, by its very nature,
longs for the acquisition of new knowledge to stimulate it and the
mind.
Ignorance is boredorn and grief, because the ignorant person
leads a life that never offers anything new or mind provoking.
Yesterday is like today, which in turn is like tomorrow.
If you desire happiness, then seek out knowledge and
enlightenment, and you will find that anxiety, depression, and grief
will leave you.
And say: 'My Lord! lncrease me in knowledge ')
(Qur 'an 20: 1 1 4)
Read! In the Name (fyour Lord, Who has created [all that exists].
(Qur 'an 96: 1)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon h im) said:
"If Allah wishes good for someone, He gives him an
understanding of the Religion. "
84 The art q/'happiness

Therefore if someone is ignorant, let him not be proud of either


his wealth or his status in society: his life is lacking in meaning and
his achievements are woefully incomplete.
fShall he then who knows that what has been revealed unto you [O '
Muhammad} fiom your Lord is the truth be like him who is blind?!
(Qur 'an 1 3 : 1 9)
Az-Zamakhshari, the well-known commentator of the Qur'an,
said in verse fonn:
"The sleepless nights I spend in learning the sciences, are more
beloved to me than the company or caresses of the enchanting
woman,
My rapturous exhilaration when understanding a difficult
concept, is more delicious to me than the most exotic drink,
More delightful to me than the sound of a woman 's hand on
the drum, are my hands on my papers in order to remove dust.
O' he who tries to attain my level by wishful thinking, how
much difference there is between the one who finds the pain of
climbing to be too much and between the one who climbs and
reaches the su inmit,
Do I toil through the night, while you sleep through it, yet you
hope to surpass me?"
How noble is enl ightenment! And through it, how happy is the soul!
(f/s he who is on a clear proofjlom his Lord, fike thosefor Hihom their
evi/ deeds that they do are beautfiedfor them, 1-vhi/e they.follow their
own lusts [evil desires}? (Qur 'an 47: 14)

The art of happiness

Among the greatest of blessings is to have a calm, stable, and


happy heart. For in happiness the mind is clear, enabling one to be a
productive person . It has been said that happiness is an art that needs
The art ol happh1ess 85

to be leamed. And if you leam it, you will be blessed in this li fe. But
how does one leam it? A basic principle of achieving happiness is
having an ability to endure and to cope with any situation. Therefore
you should neither be swayed nor govemed by difficult
circumstances, nor should you be annoyed by insignificant
trifles. Based on the purity of the heart and its ability to endure, a
person will shine. When you train yourself to be patient and
forbearing, then hardship and calamity will be easy for you to bear.
The opposite of being content is being shortsighted, being
concemed for no one but one 's own self and forgetting about the
world and all that is in it. Allah described his enemies as follows:
Thinking about themselves [as how to save their ownselves,
ignoring the others and the Prophet]. . ) (Qur 'an 3: 1 54)
It is as if such people see themselves as being the whole
universe, or at least at the center of it. They think not of others, nor do
they live for anyone but themselves. It is incumbent upon you and I
to take time out to be preoccupied with more than just us, and to
sometimes distance ourselves from our own problems in arder to
forget our wounds and hurts. By doing this w e gain two things: we
make ourselves happy, and we bring joy to others.
Basic to the art of happiness is to bridle our thoughts and to
restrain them, not allowing them to wander, stray, escape, or go wild.
For if you were to leave your thoughts to wander as they wish, then
they will run wild and control you. They will open the catalogue of
your past woes. They will remind you of the history of your
misfortunes, beginning from the day that your n1other gave you birth.
If your thoughts are left to roam, then they will bring to you images of
past difficulties and images of a future that i s frightening. These
thoughts will shake your very being and will c ause your feelings to
flare. Therefore bridle them, and restrain them by directing them to
the concentrated application of the kind of serious thought that begets
86 The art qf happiness

fruitful and beneficial work.


And put your trust in the Ever-Living One Who dies not.
(Qur 'an 25: 58)
Also among the princip les of the art of happiness is to value life
on this earth according to its true merit and worth. This life is
frivolous and does n ot warrant anything from you except that you
tum away from it. This life is filled with calamities, aches, and
wounds. If that is the description of this life, then how can one be
unduly affected by its minor calamities, and how can one grieve over
such material things as have passed him by? The best moments of li fe
are tainted, its future promises are mere mirages, the successful ones
in it are envied, the one who is blessed is constantly threatened, and
lovers are struck down by some unexpected misfortune.
And in a hadith:
"Verily, knowl edge is only acquired by the practice of
leaming, and tolerance is acquired by the practice of
talerating. "
If one were to attempt to apply the meaning of this hadith to the
topic under discussion , then he could go one step further and say that
happiness is acquired by assuming it. It is acquired by constantly
smiling, by hunting for the reasons that make one happy, and even by
forcing it onto one 's own self, however awkward that may seem. One
does all of these things until happiness becomes second nature.
The truth of the 1natter is that you cannot remove from yourself
all remnants of grief. And the reason for this is that li fe was created as
a test:
Verily, We have created man in to il. (Qur 'an 90: 4)
That He m ight tf)) _vou, which of you is the hest in deeds)
(Qur 'an 1 1 : 7)
But the message I wish to convey to you is that you should, as
much as is possible, reduce the amount and intensity of your grief. As
The art of'happine.\'.\' 87

for being completely free from grief, this is for the inhabitants of
Paradise in the Hereafter. This is why the dwellers of Paradise will
say:
'A ll the praises and thank'i be to Allah, Who has removedfrom us
[all] grief ' (Qur 'an 35: 34)
This is considered to be a proof that grief will not be removed
from them except in Paradise. Likewise, grudges and bitterness will
not be completely removed except in Paradise.
And We shall remove from their breasts any sense af injury [that
they may have]. . ) (Qur 'an 1 5: 4 7)
So when a person knows the nature of this world and its
qualities, he comes to realize that it is dry, deceitful, and unworthy;
and he comes to fully understand that that is its nature and its
description. An Arab poet said:
"You have taken an oath not to betray us in our pacts,
And it is as if you have vowed that in the end, you shall
deceive us. "
Ifthe description of this world is as I have described it to be, then
it is worthy of the intelligent person not to help it in its onslaught, nor
to surrender to depression and anxiety. What we should do is defend
ourselves from all feelings that may spoil our l ives, in a war that we
must wage with all the strength that we have been endowed with.
And make ready against them all you can ofpowe1 including steeds
af war to threaten the enemy of AI/ah and your enemy. j
(Qur 'an 8: 60)
But they never lost heart .for that which did befal! them in A llah s
Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves.
(Qur 'an 3: 1 46)
88 The art qf happiness - Pause to reflect

The art of happiness - Pause to reflect

Do not be sad. I f you are poor, then someone else is immersed in


debt. If you do not own your own means of transportation, then
someone else has been deprived of his legs. If you have reason to
complain conceming the pains of sickness, then someone else has
been bedridden for years. And if you have lost a child, then someone
else has lost rnany children, for instance, in a single car accident.
Do not be sad. You are a Muslim who believes in Allah, His
Messengers, His angels, the Hereafter, and Preordainment - both
the good and the bad of it. While you are blessed with this faith,
which is the greatest ofblessings, others disbelieve in Allah, discredit
the Messengers, differ among themselves concerning the Book, deny
the H ereafter, and deviate in their understanding of Divine
Preordainment.
Do not be sad, because if you are, you disturb your soul and
heart, and you prevent yourself from sleeping.
One of the Arab poets said:
"How often is the young man overcome with despair when
afflicted, And with Allah is the way out,
The situation becomes unbearable, and when its rope tightens,
it snaps, and throughout, he never thought that he would be
saved. "

Controlling one 's emotions

Emotions flare up for two reasons: either for joy or for inner
pain. In a hadith, the Prophet (B lessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Verily, I have been prohibited from emitting two
foolish and wicked sounds, one that is emitted when
something favorable happens, and the other that is
Controlling one 's emotions 89

expressed when calamity strikes."


fin arder that you may not be sad over matters that you fa il to get,
nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you.
(Qur 'an 5 7: 23)
For this reason, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Verily, true patience is that which is displayed during
the initial shock. "
Therefore, when one contains his emotions upon both the joyful
and the calamitous occasion, he is likely to achieve peace and
tranquility, happiness and comfort, and the taste of triumph over his
own self. Allah described man as being exultant and boastful,
irritable, discontented when evil touches him, and niggardly when
good touches him. The exceptions, Allah informed us, are those who
remain constant in prayer. For they are on a middle path in times of
both joy and sorrow. They are thankful during times of ease and are
patient during times of hardship.
Unbridled emotions can greatly wear a person out, causing pain
and loss of sleep. When such a person becomes angry, he flares up,
threatens others, loses all self-control, and surpasses the boundaries
of justice and balance. Meanwhile, if he becornes happy, h e is in a
state of rapture and wildness. In his intoxication of joy, he forgets
himself and surpasses the bounds of modesty. When he renounces
and relinquishes the company of others, he disparages them,
forgetting their virtues while stamping out their good qualities. On
the other hand, if he loves others, then he spares no pains in
according them all forms of veneration and honor, portraying them as
being the pinnacles of perfection.
The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Love the one who is beloved to you in due moderation,
for perhaps the day will come when you will abhor him.
And hate the one whom you detest in due moderation,
90 The hliss of the Prophet 's CompanhJns

for perhaps the day will arrive when you will come to
love him. "
And in another hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
'"And I ask you (O' Allah) to make me just, both while
being in a state of anger and while being in a state of
j oy. "
So when a person curbs his emotions, when he controls his
mind, and when to each matter he gives according to the weight of its
importance, he will have taken a step towards wisdom and true
understanding.
Indeed We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and
revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance [justiceJ that
m ankind may keep up justice) (Qur 'an 57: 25)
Indeed, Islam came as much with balance in morals, manners,
and dealings as it did with its straightforward, holy, and truthful way
of life.
Thus We have made you a just [and the best} nation.
(Qur 'an 2: 1 43)
Being just is an end that is called for in both our manners and in
matters ofjurisprudence. In faet, Islam is founded on truth and justice
- truthfulness in all that we leam from revealed texts, and justice in
rulings, sayings, actions, and manners.
A nd the Word ofyour Lord has beenfuljilled in truth and injustice)
(Qur 'an 6: 1 1 5)

The bliss of the Prophet's Companiom

Our Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him)


came to all people with a heavenly message. He was not driven by
worldly ambition, he had no treasure from which to spend, no
splendid gardens fron1 which to eat, and no castle in which to live.
The bliss <d. the Prop/U!t s Companions 91

Despite all this, his loving followers pledged allegiance to him and
remained steadfast, enduring a hard life full of difficulties. They were
few and weak, always in fear ofbeing uprooted by those surrounding
them, and yet they loved the Prophet (bpuh) wholly and completely.
They were besieged in a mountain pass, and during that time,
they had little or no food. Their reputations were attacked, their own
relatives waged war against them, and yet their love for him was
perfect.
Some of them were dragged over the hot sands of the desert,
some were imprisoned, and others were subjected to inventive and
innovative ways of punishment - all of which the disbelievers
inflicted upon them. Having to endure all of that, they still loved him
unreservedly with heart and soul.
They were deprived of home, country, family, and wealth. They
were driven out from the playing fields of their childhood and from
the homes in which they were raised. Despite all this suffering, they
loved him unequivocally.
The believers faced trials because of his message. The very
ground under them was shaken violently, and yet their love for him
continued to grow.
The best among their youth constantly had swords hanging
menacingly over their heads.
Their men moved forward lightly across the battlefield,
advancing to death as if they were upon an excursion or a holiday, for
the simple reason that they loved him unconditionally.
One of them was charged with the duty of carrying the Prophet's
message to a king in a foreign land, and that person knew that it was a
mission from which he would not return. Yet he went and fulfilled his
duty. One of them was sent on a mission, kno\ving that it would be
the cause of his death, and he went happily, for he loved the Prophet
(bpuh) with unmitigated love.
92 The hliss ol the Prophet 's Companions

But why did they love him, and why were they so happy with his
message and content with his example? Why did they forget the pain,
the suffering, and the hardship that resulted from following him?
To put it simply. he epitomized benevolence and righteousness.
They perceived in him all the signs of truth and purity. He was a
symbol for those who sought out higher things. With his tenderness
he cooled the rancor from the hearts of people, with words oftruth he
soothed their chests. and with his message he filled their souls with
peace.
He poured happiness into their hearts, until the pain that they
endured from being at his side was made to seem insignificant. And
he instilled in to their souls a belief that made them forget every injury
and every adversity that they had to endure.
He polished their insides with his guidance and he i lluminated
their eyes with his brilliance. He removed from them the burdens of
ignorance, the depravities of idolatry, and the evil consequences of
polytheism. H e extinguished the fires of malice and animosity from
their souls and he poured the water of faith into their hearts. Thus,
their minds and bodies became tranquil and their hearts found peace.
They tasted the beauty of life with him and they knew delight in
his company. They found happiness at his side, safety and salvation
in following him, and inner-richness in emulating him:
And We have sent you [O ' Muhammad] not but as a menyfor all
that exists. (Qur 'an 2 1 : 107)
And verily, you [O ' Muhammad] are indeed guiding [mankind} to
the straight path. (Qur 'an 42: 52)
(And He brings the1n out of darkness [by Allah s ivill] unto light" )
(Qur 'an 5: 1 6)
{He it is Who sen t among the unlettered ones a Messenger
[Muhammad] .fiYJm among !hemselves, reciting to them His Verses,
pur(/j'ing them [fom the filth qf' dishelief and polytheism}, and
Repcl borcdom .fiom your l({e 93

teaching them the Book and Al-lfikmah [As-Sunnah: legal ways,


orders, acts of 'rVOrship. etc. ofProphet Muhammad}. A nd veri(v. they
had been befare in man(fest err01: l (Qur 'an 62: 2)
{He releases them .fi"om their heavy burdens and .flom the .fetters
[binding} that were upon them) (Qur 'an 7: 157)
1Answer A llah [b.v obe,ving him} and [His} Messenger ivhen he calls
you to that which will give you !fe) (Qur 'an 8: 24)
And you were on the brink of a pit ofFire, and He saved you from
it. (Qur 'an 3: 1 03)
They were truly happy with their leader and so they rightly
deserved to be.
O' Allah, send prayers and peace upon Muhammad, the liberator
of minds from the shackles of deviation and the rescuer of souls from
the curses of falsehood, and be pleased with his noble Companions as
a recompense for their striving and for their efforts.

Repel boredorn from your life

One who lives a life of repetition and routine will almost


inevitably become a victim of boredorn, especially since man by his
very nature tires from a lack of change. For this reason A llah, the
Exalted, the Almighty, gave us variety in times and places, in food
and drink - diversity in the many forms of creation: night and day,
valley and mountain, white and black, hot and cold, shade and sun,
sweet and sour.
Allah mentioned this diversity in His book:
There comes forth finm their bellies. a drink af varying colod
(Qur 'an 1 6: 69)
f.. .and date-palms, growing out two or threefrom a single stem root,
or othenvise [one stem root for eve1)' palm}. . ) (Qur 'an 13: 4)
qAnd crops ofd(fferent shape and taste [its fru its and its seeds} and
94 Repe! boredom.fiom your llfe

olives. and pomegranates, similar [in kind} and d[fferent [in taste}.
(Qur 'an 6 : 141)
. " and among the mountains are streaks white and red, of varying
colors . .
. (Qur 'an 35: 2 7)
And so are the da_1-s [good and not so good}. We give to men by
turns. . ) (Qur 'an 3: 1 40)
The children of Israel tired of eating the one kind food they were
given, even though it was the hest of foods - simply because it was
all that they ate.
We cannot endure one kind offood) (Qur 'an 2: 61)
Al-Ma'moon would altemate between reading, standing, sitting,
or lying, and he said,
"The soul is ever so prone to boredorn."
Those who remember A llah [always, and in prayers} standing,
sitting and lying down on their sides. . . (Qur 'an 3: 1 91)
You should contemplate the many forms of worship that are
legislated in Islam. There are deeds of the heart, ofthe tongue, of the
limbs, and of wealth_ by spending it for a good cause. The prayer,
alms giving, fasting, pilgrimages to Makkah, fighting in the way of
Allah - these are only some examples of worship. The prayer
involves standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting. I f you desire
relaxation, vitality, and continued productivity, then bring diversity
into your work, your reading, and your daily li fe. In terms of reading,
for example, read a broad range of topics: the Qur'an, its explanation,
the biography of the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) and
his Companions, hadith, Islamic jurisprudence, history, literature,
books of general knowledge, and so forth. Distribute your time
between worship and enjoying what is lawful, from visiting friends,
entertaining guests, playing sports, or going on excursion s: you will
find yourself to be a lively and bright person, because the soul
delights in variety and things that are new.
Cast oflanxiety 95

Cast ojf anxi,ety

Do not be sad, for your Lord says:


Have We not opened your breast for you [O Muhammad} ?
(Qur 'an 94: 1)
The message ofthis verse embraces all those who carry the truth,
who see the light, and who tread the path of guidance.
qis he whose breast A llah has opened to Islam, so that he is in light
from His Lord [as he who is non-Muslim}? So, woe to those whose
hearts are hardened against the remembrance af A llah !
(Qur 'an 3 9: 22)
Therefore there is a truth that causes the heart to be opened and a
falsehood that causes it to harden.
Mnd whosoever A llah wills to guide, He opens h is breast to Islam)
(Qur 'an 6: 1 25)
So the acceptance of and adherence to this Religion is a goal that
cannot be achieved except by the one who i s b lessed.
q 'Be not sad [ar afraid}, surely Allah is with us. (Qur 'an 9: 40)
All those that have faith in Allah 's care, guardianship, and mercy
speak the words that are related in this verse.
Those [i.e. believers} unto whom the people [hypocrites} said,
'Verily, the people [pagans} have gathered against you [a great
army}, therefore, fear them '. But it [onZvJ increased them in Faith,
and they said: 'Allah [Alone} is Sufficientfor us, and He is the Best
Disposer of ajfairs [for us}. ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 73)
His being Sufficient for us frees us frmn dependence upon
others, and His Guardianship protects us.
O ' Prophet [Muhammad}! A llah is Su.fficient for you and for the
believers who follow you. (Qur 'an 8: 64)
And put your trust in the Ever-Living One Who dies not. . )
(Qur 'an 25: 58)
96 Cast qf
f anxiety

And endure you patiently [O ' Muhammad}, yourpatience is not but


from A llah. And grieve not over them [po(vtheists and pagans, etc.},
and be not distressed because of what they plot. Truly, A //ah is with
those who fear Him [keep their duty unto Him} and those who are
good-doers. (Qur 'an 1 6: 1 2 7- 128)
A llah being with them in this verse refers to a special blessing
for his obedient worshippers, in terms of protection, care, support,
and guardianship. This is in proportion to the level of their faith,
actions, and efforts.
So do not become weak [against your enemyj, nor be sad, and you
will be superior [in victory} if you are indeed [true} believers.
(Qur 'an 3: 139)
They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance; and if they
.fight against you, they will show you their backs, and they will not be
helped. (Qur 'an 3: 1 11)
Allah has decreed: ' Verily! It is I and My Messengers who shall be
the victorious '. Verily, Allah is A ll-Powerful, A ll-Mighty )
(Qur 'an 58: 2 1)
Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those
who believe [in the Oneness ofA llah - lslamic Monotheism} in this
world s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth [i.e.
Day of Resurrection}. P (Qur 'an 40: 51)
And my affair I leave it to A llah. Verily, Allah is the A ll-Seer of[His}
slaves. So A llah saved him from the evils that they plotted [against
h imj" ) (Qur 'an 40: 44, 45)
And in A llah should the believers put their trust) (Qur 'an 3: 122)
Don 't be sad: live today as if it were the last day of your life.
With this frame of mind and outlook towards life, you have no reason
to al low sadness or anger to steal the little time you have. In a hadith,
the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
Cast qff anxiety 97

"When the mommg comes upon you, then do not


expect to see the evening, and when you see the night,
do not expect to see the moming. "
In other words, live with heart, body, and soul for today only,
without dwelling upon the past and without being anxious about the
future. An Arab poet said:
"The past is lost forever, and that which is hoped for is from
the unseen,
So all that you have is the present hour. "
Being preoccupied with the past and dragg ing past woes into the
present - these are the signs of an unstable and unsound mind.
A Chinese proverb reads:
"Do not cross the bridge until you reach it. "
In other words, be anxious over events only when they come to pass.
One of our pious predecessors said,
"O' son of Adam, verily, you have only three days: Yesterday,
and it has forsaken you; tomorrow, and it has yet to arrive; and
today, so fear Allah and obey Him in it. "
How can he truly live who carries with him the concems of the
past, the present, and the future? How can one find peace, while
constantly recollecting that which has already occurred? One plays a
past event back in his mind, feels its pain, and yet benefits nothing
from the process.
The meaning of, 'when the moming comes, do not expect to see
the evening, and when the evening comes, do not expect to see the
morning, ' is that we should not have lofty or long-term hopes for this
world. Expect death and do your hest in doing g ood deeds. Do not let
your concerns and ambitions surpass the limit of that day in which
you live, a code that will allow you to concentrate and spend all of
your energies on being productive each day. U s e time efficiently and
concentrate all of your efforts on achieving something today, by
98 Cast qff anxiety - Pause to reffe ct

improving your manners, taking care of your health, and improving


your relations with others.

Cast ojf anxiety - Pause to reflect

Do not be sad, for that which has been preordained has already
been decided upon and will take place though you may not like it.
The pens have dried, the scrolls have been rolled up, and every affair
i s firmly established. Therefore your sadness will not change your
reality in the least.
Do not be sad, because, with your sadness, you desire for time's
suspension: for the sun to stop in its place, for the hands of the clock
to stand still, for the steps of your feet to move backwards, and for the
river to flow back to its source.
Do not be sad, b ecause sadness is like a hurricane that violently
tosses the waves, c hanging the atmosphere and destroying the
b looming flowers of the luxuriant garden.
Do not be sad, b ecause the one who is sad is like a person who
pours water into a bucket that has a hole in it. He is like a writer who
uses his finger to write on water.
Do not be sad, because the true span of life is measured by the
number of days in which you are content. Do not then spend your
days i n grief, do not waste your nights in sorrow, and do not be
extravagant in squandering your time; for truly, Allah loves not those
who are extravagant and wasteful.
Do not be sad, for in truth, your Lord forgives sins and accepts
repentance.
When you read the foliowing verse, does not your heart feel
peaceful, are not your worries driven away, and does not happiness
permeate your whole being?
Cast qff'anxiery Pause to rejfect 99

Say: 'O ' My slaves who have transgressed against themselves [by
committing evil deeds and sins} ! Despair not af the Mercy of Allah,
verily A llah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Ofi-Forgiving, Most
Merciful. (Qur 'an 39: 53)
He addressed them with, 'O' my slaves, ' to tame their hearts and
souls. He specifically mentioned those who transgress, since they are
more disposed than others to perpetrate evil deeds on a continual
basis. How much greater then will be the Mercy o f Allah for others !
Thus He forbade them from despairing and from losing hope of
attaining forgiveness. And H e informed them that H e forgives all sins
of the one who repents, whether they are big or small, important or
unimportant.
Do you not then rejoice upon reading the fo llowing verses?
And those who, when they have committed Fal;ishah [illegal sexual
intercourse etc.} or wronged themselves with evil, remember A llah
and ask forgiveness for their sins - and none can forgive sins but
A llah - And do not persist in what [wrong] they have don e, while
they know) (Qur 'an 3: 135)
And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks
A llah s Forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most
Merciful. (Qur 'an 4: 1 1 0)
lfyou avoid the great sins which you areforbidden to do, We shall
remitfrom you your [smal!} sins, and admit you to a Noble Entrance
[i.e. into Paradise}. (Qur 'an 4: 3 1)
<{{f they [hypocrites}, when they had been unjust to themselves, had
come to you [Muhammad] and begged Allah s .forgiveness, and the
Messenger had begged forgiveness for them: indeed, they would
havefound Allah A ll-Forgiving {One Who accepts repentance}, Most
Merci.ful. l (Qur 'an 4: 64)
!And verily, I am indeed Forgiving to him who repents, believes [in
My Oneness, and associates none in ivorship ivith Mej and does
1 00 Cast off anxiety - Pause to reffect

righteous good deeds . and then remains constant in doing them, [til!
h is deathj) (Qur 'an 20: 82)
When Prophet Moosa (Moses) killed a man, he said:
'O' my Lord, forgive me, ' and He forgave him.
When Prophet Dawood (David) repented, Allah said:
!So We forgave him 1hat, and veriy, for him is a near access to Us,
and a good place o,( [final} return [Paradise}. J (Qur 'an 38: 25)
How perfect, merciful, and generous is Allah! He even proffered
H is mercy and forgiveness for those who believe in the Trinity -
that is, if they repent:
Surely, disbelievers are those who said: 'A llah is the third of the
three [in a Trinity} '. But there is no Jlah [god} [none who has the
right to be worshippe d] but One Ilah [God-Allah}. And ifthey cease
not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befal! the
disbelievers among them. Will they not repent to A llah and ask His
Forgiveness ? For A llah is Oji-Forgiving, Most Mercfid.
(Qur 'an 5: 73-74)
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Allah, blessed is He and Most High, says: 'O' son of
Adam, indeed" you will not supplicate to Me and hope
from Me except that I will forgive you, in proportion to
what came from you (i.e. your level of sincerity), and I
won't mind. 0 ' son of Adam, if your sins were to reach
in magnitude the height of the heavens, and then you
were to ask Me for forgiveness, I would forgive you,
and I won 't mind. O' son of Adam, were you to come to
Me with sins that (in their size) almost fill the earth, and
you met Me \Vithout ascribing to Me any partners, I
would come to you with its size in forgiveness. '"
Bukhari related that the Prophet (bpuh) said:
Cast ofanxiety
f - Pause to r(flect 101

"Indeed, Allah extends His Hand in the night to forgive


the one who sins in the day, and He extends His Hand in
the day to forgive the one who sins at night, and this
continues until the sun rises from the west. "
In another hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) relates that A llah said:
"'O' my slaves, verily you sin by day and night, and I
forgive all sins; so seek forgiveness from Me and I will
forgive you."
In another authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"By the One Who has my soul in His Hand, if you were
not to sin, then Allah would remove you, and would
bring another nation who sins, and who then seek
forgiveness from Allah; and He would forgive them. "
And the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) also said:
"By the One Who has my soul in His Hand, if you were
not to sin, then I would fear upon you that which is more
severe than sin; and that is self-concei t . "
I n another authentic narration, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Every one of you is constantly doing wrong, and the
best of those who constantly do wrong are the ones who
are constantly making repentance. "
He (bpuh) also said in this authentic hadith:
"Truly, Allah is happier with the repentance of His slave
than one of you who is on his mount, and upon his
mount is his drink and food; then he loses his mount in
the desert, and he searches for it until he loses hope; so
he sleeps and then wakes up to find that his mount is
beside him, and he says, "O' Allah, you are my slave
and I am your Lord'. He pronounced this mistake as a
result of his extreme happiness ."
He (bpuh) is also authentically reported to have said:
102 D o not be sad - Everything will occur . . .

"Verily, a slave (of Allah) commits a sin and then he


says, 'O' Allah, forgive me my sin, for indeed, none
forgives sins except You ' . Then he commits another sin,
and he afterwards says, 'O' Allah, forgive me my sin,
for indeed, none forgives sins except You' . Then he
commits another sin, and he afterwards says, 'O' Allah,
forgive me my sin, for indeed, none forgives sins except
You ' . Then Allah says, ' My slave knows that he has a
Lord, Who takes one to account for sins, and Who also
forgives sins, so let my slave do as he wishes. "'
The meaning ofthis is that as long as Allah's slave is contrite and
repentant, then A llah will forgive him.

Do not be sad - Everything will occur


according to pre-ordainment

Everything occurs according to preordainment and according to


what has been decreed. Such is the belief of Muslims, the followers
of Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him). And nothing
happens in the Universe except through Allah's Knowledge,
Permission, and Divine Plan.
No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in
the Book ofDecrees [A l-Lauh al-Mahfu?}, befare We bring it in to

existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah. (Qur 'an 57: 22)
Verily, We have created all things with Qadar [Divine
Preordainments of all things befare their creation, as written in
the Book of Decrees - Al-Lauh al-Ma/Jfu?J. (Qur 'an 54: 49)
And certainly, We shall test you with something offear, hunger, loss
of wealth, lives andfruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones.
(Qur 'an 2: 155)
And in a hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
Do not he sad Everything wi/l occur. . .
- 1 03

"Wonderful is the affair of the believer! His affairs i n


their entirety are good for him: i f good befalls him. he is
thankful, and that is good for him. And if harm befalls
him, he is patient, and that is good for him. And this
(prosperous state of being) is only for the believer. "
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"lf you ask, then ask of Allah, and ifyou seek help, then
seek it from Allah. And know that if the whole of the
nation were to rally together in order to bring benefit to
you in anything, they would not benefit you except with
that which A llah has written for you. And if they were
to gather together in order to inflict harm upon you with
something, they would not harm you except with that
which Allah has written upon you. The pens have been
raised and the pages have dried. "
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace b e upon him) also said:
"And know that what has befallen you was not going to
miss you, and that which missed you was not meant to
befall you . "
In another authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Strive for that which will benefit you, seek help from
Allah, do not be weak, and do not say: I f I had done such
and such, the situation would be such and such. But say:
Allah has decreed and what He wishes, He does. "
And in another authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Every matter that Allah decrees for His slave is better
for him. "
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah was asked about sin: I s it good
for someone? He said:
"Yes, with the condition that it is followed by being remorseful
and repentant, by seeking forgiveness, and by being sincerely
1 04 Do not be sad - Wait patiently for a happy outcome

moved (to submission) on the inside. "


Allah, the Exalted, s ays:
And it may be that you dislike a thing, which is goodfor you and that
you like a thing, which is bad for you. A llah knows but you do not
know. (Qur 'an 2: 2 1 6)

Do not be sad Wait patiently


-

for a happy outcome

The following hadith is found in the book of At-Tirmidhi :


"The best form of worship i s to wait (patiently) for a
happy outcome . "
Is not the morning near? (Qur 'an J J : 81)
The moming of the afflicted is looming, so watch for it. An Arab
proverb says, "lf the rope becomes too tight, it will snap . "
I n other words, if a situation reaches the level of crisis, then
expect a light and an opening to appear. Allah says:
And whosoeverfears A llah and keeps his duty to Him, He will remit
his sins from him, and will en/arge his reward) (Qur 'an 65: 5)
And whosoeverfears A llah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make
his matter easy for h im) (Qur 'an 65: 4)
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon
him) relates this saying from Allah:
"I am with the thoughts of My slave towards Me, so let
him think of Me as he pleases."
Allah, the Almighty, says:
[They were reprievedj until, when the Messengers gave up hope and
thought that they were denied [by their people}, then came to them
Our Help, and whosoever We willed were delivered.
(Qur 'an 12: l i 0)
Wait patiently for a happy outcome - Pause to rlfiect 105

Know that, truly, with hardship there is relief. Sorne


commentators ofthe Qur'an said (considering it to be a hadith) that:
"One hardship cannot overcome two reliefs . "
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said i n an authentic
hadith:
"And know that victory comes with patience and that
relief cornes with hardship."
An Arab poet said:
"Sorne eyes are restless while others are in sleep,
In meditating that which may or may not occur,
So leave worrying as much as possibl e,
As carrying the burdens of anxiety is madness,
There is your Lord, who provided you with solutions to
yesterday,
And He will similarly provide for what i s to come tomorrow. "
Another said:
"Let events flow in their predestined path,
And do not sleep except with a clear mind,
Between the period of the blinking of the eye and its opening,
Allah changes things from one state to another. "

Wait patiently for a happy


outcome - Pause to reflect

Do not worry about your wealth that is stored in vaults. Unless


you have faith in Allah, your high castles and your green gardens will
only bring you worry, grief, and hopelessness.
Do not be sad: even the diagnosis of the doctor and his medicine
cannot rnake you happy if you have allowed sadness to dwell in your
heart, letting it permeate your emotions and your existence.
1 06 D o not he sad: Seekforgivenessfrom A llah qften . . .

Do not be sad: you have the ability to supplicate to Allah and


thus excel at humbling yourself at the doorstep of the King of kings.
You have the blessed last third of the night to invoke Allah and to rub
your head upon the ground in prostration.
Do not be sad: A llah has created for you the earth and what is in
it. He has caused gardens of beauty to grow, filling them with many
kinds of p lants and flowers in pairs, both male and female. And He
has made tall palm trees, shining stars, forests, rivers and streams -
yet you are sad!
Do not be sad: you drink water that is pure, you breathe fresh air,
you walk upon your two feet in health, and you sleep the evenings in
peace.

Do not be sad: Seek forgiveness from Allah


aften, for your Lord is Oft-Forgiving

t:!J [Noah} said [to them} : 'Askforgivenessfrom your Lord, verily, He


is Oft-Forgiving. He will send rain to you in abundance; and give
you increase in wealth and children; and bestow on you gardens; and
bestow on you rivers. 'l (Qur 'an 71 : 1 0-12)
So seek forgiveness from Allah more aften and you will reap the
benefits of doing so: peace of mind, lawful provisions, righteous
offspring, and plentiful rain.
And [commanding :vou}: 'Seek the forgiveness ofyour Lord, and
turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment,
for a term appointed. And that He may bestow His abounding Grace
to every owner ofgrace [i.e. the one who helps and serves the needy
and deserving, physically and with his wealth, and even with good
words}. ' (Qur 'an 1 1 : 3)
And the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
Do not be sad - Ahrays remember A llah 107

"Whosoever seeks forgiveness (from A llah) often, then


Allah makes for him a good ending for every matter of
concem and provides for him a way out of every tight
situation. "
Related in Bukhari is a hadith that is kno wn as the chief of A l
/stighfaar (i.e., of supplications with which one asks Allah for
forgiveness):
"O' Allah, You are my Lord and none has the right to be
worshipped except You. You have created me and I am
your slave; and I am upon your covenant and promise as
much as I am able to be. I seek refuge i n You from the
evil that I have perpetrated. I confess to You Your favor
upon me, and I confess to You my sin, so forgive me;
for verily, none forgives sins except You . "

Do not be sad - Always remember Allah

Concerning His remembrance, Allah, the A l l-Glorious, says:


Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest)
(Qur 'an 1 3 : 28)
Therefore remember Me [by praying, glor(fYing etc.} and I lvill
remember you" ) (Qur 'an 2: 1 52)
(And the men and the ivomen who remember A llah much with their
hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a
great reward [i. e. Paradise}. (Qur 'an 33: 35)
to ' you who believe! Remember A llah with m uch remembrance. And
glorifj' His Praises morning and afternoon [the earf.y morning (fajr)
and 'Ar prayers]. (Qur 'an 33: 41-42)
O ' you who believe! Let not your properties or your children divert
you from the remembrance af Allah. i (Qur 'an 63: 9)
And remember your Lord when you forget. . ) (Qur 'an I 8: 24)
108 Do not he sad - Ahrays rememher Allah

c{And glori.Jj the Praises ofyour Lord when you get up from sleep.
And in the n ight-time also, glorifj; His Praises, - and at the setting of
the stars. (Qur 'an 52: 48-49)
O ' you who believe.1 When you meet [an enemy] force, take a firm
stand against them and remember the Name ofA llah much [both with
tongue and mind}, so that you may be successjitl) (Qur 'an 8: 45)
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"The xample of one who remembers his Lord in
relation to one who does not remember his Lord is that
o f the living and the dead. "
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) also said:
"The mufarridoon outstrip others." His Companions
asked. ''Who are the mufarridoon, 0' Messenger of
Allah . '' H e said, "The men who remember Allah often
and th women who remember Allah often. "
And in another authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Shall l not inform you of the hest of deeds, and the
purest ofthem with your Lord? The deed which is better
for you than spending gold and silver (for a good
cause) . and which is better for you than to meet your
enemy. and you cut their throats and they cut yours?"
They said, "Yes. O ' Messenger of Allah." He said, "The
remem)rance o f Allah."
The followin g is an authentic hadith:
"A man came to the Prophet and said, 'O' Messenger of
Allah, the comrnandments of Islam have become too
much for me, and I am old in age; so inform of
somethmg that I can adhere to. ' He said, 'That your
tongue ( conti nually) remains moist with the
remembrance of Allah. '"
Do not he sad - Nel'cr /ose hope ql A I/ah 's mercy 109

Do not be sad Never


-

lose hope of Allah 's mercy

Certainly no one despairs of Allah s Mercy, except the people who


disbelieve) (Qur 'an 12: 8 7)
[They were reprievedj until, when the Messengers gave up h ope and
thought that they were denied [by their people], then came to them
Our Help. . . J (Qur 'an 1 2 : 1 1 0)
And We delivered him from the distress. And thus We do de/iver the
believers. (Qur 'an 2 1 : 88)
And you were harboring doubts about Allah. There, the believers
were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking) (Qur 'an 33: 1 0- 1 J)
Do not grieve over the hurt that is inflicted upon you by others,
and forgive those that have ill-treated you.
The price of jealousy and rancor is enormous; it is the price that
the revengeful person pays in exchange for his malice towards others.
He pays with his heart, flesh, and blood. His peace, his relaxation,
and his happiness - these he forsakes because he desires the
sweetness of revenge and because he resents others.
Jealousy and rancor are illnesses for which A llah has given the
cure and remedy:
[Those} who repress anger, and who pardon men.J'
(Qur 'an 3: 1 3 4)
Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the
foolish [i. e. don 't punish them}. l (Qur 'an 7: 1 99)
Repel [the evilj with one which is better [i.e. A llah ordered the
fclithful believers to be patient at the time of ange1 and to excuse
those 111ho treat them bad(v], then verily.' He, between whom and you
there tvas enmity, [wil/ become} as though h e was a close fiiend. J
(Qur 'an 4 1 : 34)
1 10 Do not be sad - Ne ver lo.se hope qf'Al/ah 's mercy

Do not grieve over that which has passed you by in life, for
indeed you have been blessed with much.
Contemplate the many favors and gifts that Allah has bestowed
upon you and be thankful to H im for them. Remind yourself of
Allah 's many blessings, for He, the Almighty, said:
And ifyou would count the graces ofA llah, never could you be able
to count them) (Qur 'an 1 6: 18)
And [Allah} has completed and perfected His Graces upon you,
[both} apparent [i. e. lslamic Monotheism, and the lawful pleasures
of this world, including health, good looks, etc.} and hidden [i. e.
One 's Faith in A llah (of lslamic Monotheism) knowledge, wisdom,
guidance for doing righteous deeds, and also the pleasures and
delights of the Hereafier in Paradise, etc.}. (Qur 'an 3 1 : 20)
And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from
A llah. Then, when harm touches you, unto Him you cry aloud for
help) (Qur 'an 1 6: 53)
A llah said, establishing H is favors upon man:
Have We not madefor him a pair ofeyes,' and a tongue and a pair of
fips? And shown him the two ways [good and evil]?
(Qur 'an 90: 8-1 0)
Life, health, the faculties of hearing and seeing, two hands and
two legs, water, air, food - these are some of the more visible
blessings in this world, while the greatest of all blessings is that of
Islam and correct guidance. What would you say to someone who
offered you large sums of money in return for your eyes, your ears,
your legs, your hands. or your heart? How great is your wealth in
real i ty? By not being thankful, you do not render justice to Allah 's
countless favors.
Grieve nor over umrorthy things III

Grieve not over unworthy things

By being unconcerned over trifles, you display a virtue that will


bring you happiness, for the one who is lofty in his aims is engrossed
only with concern for the Hereafter.
One of our pious predecessors advised one of his brothers with
the following words,
"Be concerned about this only: about meeting Allah, about
standing in front of Him, and about the Hereafter. "
That Day shall you be brought to Judgment, not a secret o.fyou will
be hidden. (Qur 'an 69: 1 8)
There is not a single worry or concern whose significance is not
diminished when it is compared to the concerns of the H ereafter.
What are the worries of this life? They are status, prestige, farne,
income, wealth, mansions, and children. They are all nothing when
compared to the accountability before Allah !
Allah described His enemies, the hypocrites, by saying:
While another party was thinking about themselves [as how to save
their ownselves, ignoring the others and the Prophet} and thought
wrongly of Allah" ) (Qur 'an 3 : 1 54)
Their concerns are for themselves, their stomachs, and their
lusts; they know nothing of higher motives.
When the people pledged allegiance to the Prophet (bpuh) under
the tree, one of the hypocrites left hastily in search of his red camel,
which had strayed. He said,
"For me to find my camel is more beloved to me than your
ceremony of pledging allegiance. "
And in relation t o this incident, the following is related in a hadith:
"All of you have been forgiven, except for the owner of
the red camel. "
1 12 Do not be sad - Repel anxiety

One of the hypocrites, who was worried only about himself, said
to his companions conceming the expedition to Tabuk, "March not
forth in the heat. " A llah, the Exalted, said:
Say: 'The Fire af Heil is more intense in heat '.. ) (Qur 'an 9: 81)
Another one of them said:
'Grant me leave [to be exemptedfrom Jihad} and put me not into
trial. 'P (Qur 'an 9: 49)
And A llah said:
Surely, they have fallen into trial) (Qur 'an 9: 49)
While yet others were troubled and concemed only for their
wealth and their fami lies:
'Our p ossessions and our families occupied us, so ask forgiveness
for us. ' (Qur 'an 48: 11)
These concerns are trifles that none should be preoccupied with
- except for those who are themselves trifling and insignificant. As
for the noble Companions, they desired the favors of Allah and they
longed for His pleasure.

Do not be sad - Repel anxiety

Idleness is destructive, and most people who suffer from worries


and anxieties are the same people who are idle and inactive. Rumors
and gossip are the only dividends for those that are bankrupt of
meaningful and fruitful work.
Apply yourself to something and work hard at it. Read, recite,
and glorify your Lord with praises. Write, visit friends, and benefit
from your time. In s hort, do not give a single minute away to
idleness. The day that you do will be the day that anxieties and
worries will find their way into your life. Superstition and evil
whispers will enter your mind, allowing you to become a playground
for the games of the devil.
Do not be sad - Repel anxiety 1 13

Do not grieve over the person who forgets or denies the favors
you once gave to him, for your desire should be solely for the reward
of Allah.
Perform righteous deeds purely and sincerely for the pleasure of
Allah, and do not expect either congratulation or gratitude from any
person. Do not take it to heart if you confer a favor upon sorneone
and he then tums out to be ungrateful, showing no sign of
appreciation for what you have done. Seek your reward from A llah.
Allah says of His righteous slaves:
They seek Bounties from A llah and His pleasure) (Qur 'an 59: 8)
Say: 'No reward do I ask af you for this . . .
' (Qur 'an 25: 5 7)
And have in his mind no favor from anyone for which a re1.ard is
expected in return. (Qur 'an 92: 1 9)
[Saying} : 'We feed you seeking A llah s Countenance only. J1e wish
for no reward, nor thanks from you. (Qur 'an 76: 9)
So make your dealings with Allah alone, as H e is the One Who
rewards people for good deeds. He gives and H e bestows, or H e
punishes and H e takes to account, being pleased with those who do
well and angry with those who do evil.
Martyrs were killed in Qandahar, and ' Umar (may Allah be
pleased with him) asked the companions, "Who was killed? " They
mentioned some names to him, and then the y said, "And people
whom you do not know. " 'Umar's eyes filled with tears and he said,
"But Allah knows them. "
A pious person fed the best and finest of food to a blind man. His
family said to him, "This blind man does not know what he is eating
(so give him something of lower quality)." H e replied, "But Allah
knows! "
Since Allah knows your deeds, knows of the good you do and
the help you give to others, remain carefree and untroubled about
what people think.
1 14 Grieve not 1rhen others blarne and disparage you

Grieve not when others blame and disparage you

They will do you n o harm, barring a trifling annoyance.. )


(Qur 'an 3: 1 Il)
. . . and be not distressed because of what they plot)
(Qur 'an 1 6: 1 2 7)
. . . and harm them n ot. And put your trust in A llah. . )
(Qur 'an 33: 48)
. . . but A llah cleared him [Moosa} of that which they alleged. . )
(Qur 'an 33: 69)
An Arab poet said:
"The vast ocean feels no harm,
When the boy pitches into it a rock. "
In a hadith that has a asan grading, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Do not speak ill to me of my Companions, for verily, I
would love to leave you with a sound breast. "

Grieve not over being poor

The more the body enjoys, the more the soul become sullied, and
there is safety in having little. Taking only that which you need from
this world is an early comfort that Allah bestows upon those whom
H e pleases among H is slaves.
Verily! We will inherit the earth and whatsoever is thereon.
(Qur 'an 1 9: 40)
One poet said:
"Water, bread, and shade,
These form a most worthy bliss,
I have denied the favors of my Lord,
If I said that I had too little."
Do notfee/ sad over fears for 11ha1 may happen 1 15

What in this world is truly important, but cold water, wann


bread, and plentiful shade !

Do not feel sad over fears for what may happen

In the Torah, the following has been related:


"Most of what is feared to occur, never happens! "
This means that most apprehensions and fears o f impending
difficulty fail to take shape in reality. Conjectures of the mind are far
greater in number and in scope than the things that actually happen in
life.
An Arab poet said:
"I said to my heart when it was attacked by a fit of anxiety,
Be happy, because most fears are false. "
This implies that i f you hear o f an impending calamity, or hear o f
oncoming disaster, don't be overly alarmed, especially s ince the
majority of predictions about impending harm are false.
. . 'A nd my ajfair I leave it to Allah . Verily, A llah is the A ll-Seer of
.

[His} slaves. ' So A llah saved him from the evils that they plotted
[against him]. . ) (Qur 'an 40: 44-45)

Grieve not over criticism from the


jealous and the weak-minded

You will be rewarded if you show forbearance to their criticism


and to their impertinent remarks. The more they criticize you, the
more you are increased in worth, because o n ly someone who is
unaccomplished has no one who is jealous of him, and according to
the Arab saying,
"People do not kick a dead dog."
One poet said:
1 16 Grieve n o t (Jl'er criricismfrom rhejealous and. "

"They are jealous of he who has surpassed them,


People show him enmity and opposition,
Just like spiteful women, who speak of the fair maiden,
With j ealousy and malice - that she is of a low and base
character. "
Zuhayr said:
"They are j ealous of that which he has been blessed with,
Allah will not take away from him the cause of their
resentment. "
Another said:
"They will envy my death, what wretchedness is this,
Even in my death, I am not spared from their jealousy. "
Another poet said:
"I complained about the injustice of gossip-mongers, and you
will not find,
The honorable and successful person who has escaped from
jealousy,
You remain, 0 honorable and worthy friend, the victim of it,
Yet no one begrudges the one who is miserable and wretched. "
In another poem:
"If a person reaches the sky with his nobleness,
Then his enem ies will be the numbers of the stars in the sky,
They shoot at h im using a bow with every kind of persecution,
Yet their abuses will never bring them to the level of his
nobil ity. "
Prophet Moosa (Moses) asked his Lord to prevent people from
abusing him with their tongues. Allah said, "O' Moosa, I have not
done so for myself. I have created them and provided for them and
they blaspheme and curse me! "
It has been authentically narrated that the Prophet (Blessings and
Peace be upon him) said,
Grieve nor over criticis111 .fiom rhe jea/ous and. . . 117

"Allah says: 'The son of Adam curses Me and


blasphemes Me, and he has no right to do so. As for his
cursing Me, he curses the time, and I am the time: I
alternate the day and night as I please. As for their
blaspheming Me, they say that I have a wife and a child,
and I have neither a wife nor a child. ' " '
You may not be able to prevent people from attacking your
honor, but you are able to do well, and ultimately, to ignore and tum
away from their criticism and scorn.
Another poet said:
"I move past the fool who curses me,
And I continue on my previous course saying: he does not
refer to me ! "
And yet another said:
"When the fool speaks, then do not respond to him,
For better than to answer him is silence. "
Idiots and fools clearly feel insulted by those who shine, those
who are noble, and those who display genius .
"lf the strengths and good points that I possess,
Were my sins, then pray tell me, how can I make amends. "
Woe to eve1y slanderer and backbite1 Who has gathered wealth and
counted it. He thinks that this wealth will make h im lastforever! Nay!
Verily, he will be thrown into the crushing Fire. (Qur 'an 1 04: 1-4)
A well-known western writer said,
"Do what is right, and then turn your back to every vulgar
criticism. "
Do not respond to an injurious statement that is made about you.
Forbearance buries faults, tolerance is superior. silence conquers the
enemy, and forgiveness is honor for which you shall be rewarded. If
defamatory remarks are printed about you, know that half of those
that read such things quickly forget them while the other half are
1 18 Stop lo refle<'l

uninterested in the first place. So do not create further noise and fuss
by refuting what has been said.
A wise person said,
"People are oblivious of you and me, and are busily striving
for their bread. And if one of them is thirsty, he will forget my
death and yours . "
A poet said,
"Do not broadcast your affairs to your sitting companions,
Because they are jealous and will rejoice at your misfortune. "
A house that has within it serenity and bread is better than a
house that is replete with many kinds of expensive foods, yet is a
p lace of trouble and unrest.

Stop to reflect

D o not be sad: for sickness is a transient state of being; the sin


can be forgiven; the debt will be repaid; the captive will be released;
the beloved one who is abroad will return; the sinner will repent; and
the poor will be increased in their wealth.
D o not be sad, for do you not see how the black clouds disperse
and the violent winds subside? Your hardships will be followed by
comfort and your future is bright.
Do not be sad, for the blaze of the sun is extinguished by
luxuriant shade; the thirst of noon is refreshed by fresh water; the
pangs of hunger fin d relief in warm bread; and the anxiety of
sleeplessness is followed by calm repose; the pains of sickness are
soon forgotten after the return of health. It is only upon you to forbear
for a short time and to be patient for a few moments.
Do not be sad, for even doctors, wise men, scholars, and poets
are weak and unable to defy or change that which has been decreed.
Ali ibn Jabla said:
Stop ro reflect I19

"Perhaps a way out will come, perhaps ,


We comfort ourselves with perhaps,
So do not despair when you meet
With affliction that weakens your spirit,
Since the closest one comes
To relief, is when he loses all hope."
Do not be sad: select for yourself that which Allah has chosen
for you.
Stand if H e causes you to stand and sit if H e orders you to sit.
Show patience if He has made you to be poor and be thankful if H e
makes you to be rich. These points are u nderstood from the
statement, "I am p leased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as a
Religion, and with Muhammad as a Messenger. "
And an Arab poet said:
"Do not weave a plan for yourself,
The people of plotting are destroyed,
Be contented with our decree,
We are worthier to plan for you than you yourself. "
Do not be sad: overlook the actions of others.
They can lay no claim on giving benefit or harm, death or life,
reward or punishment.
Ibraheem ibn Adham said:
"We live such a li fe ( of amazing pleasure in the worship of
Allah) that if the kings knew about it, they would fight us over
it with swords. "
lbn Taymiyah said:
"Sometimes the heart is in such a state, that I say: if the people
of Paradise experience this, then they indeed have a wonderful
life . "
He said on another occasion:
1 20 Stop to reffect

"The heart sometimes dances rapturously, from the happiness


of rememberin g Allah and of feeling close to Him. "
H e also said upon entering prison, as the guards were closing the
doors upon him:
So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Inside it
wil/ be mercy, and outside it will be forment. (Qur 'an 5 7: 13)
H e said while he was in prison:
"What can my enemies do to mel My garden and my paradise
are in my breast, wherever I go they are with me. If my
enemies kill me, I become a martyr and if they banish me from
my country, I go abroad as a tourist; and by imprisoning me,
they allow me to have solitude (so that I can worship Allah) . "
A wise person once said:
"What has he found who has lost Allah, and what has he
discovered who has found Allah? They can never be equal; the
one who has found Allah has found everything and the one
who has lost Him has lost everything."
Do not blindly feel grief; instead, make sure you know the value
of the thing over which you feel sad.
The Prophet (Blessin gs and Peace be upon him) said:
"For me to say, ' How perfect is Allah, All praise is for
Him, there is n one worthy of worship except H im, and
A llah is the greatest, ' is more beloved to me than all that
the sun rises upon."
Of rich people, their castles, houses, and wealth, one of our pious
pre:decessors said:
"We eat and they eat. We drink and they drink. We see and
they see. We w i l l not be called to account and they will be held
accountable (i.e. for their wealth, how it was acquired and how
,
it was spent). .
In the words of a poet:
Do not he sad - Do good to others 121

"The first night in the grave causes on e to forget,


The castles of Khosrau and the treasures of Caesar. "
Allah said:
And truly you have come unto Us alone [without wealth,
companions ar anything else} as We created you the first time)
(Qur 'an 6: 94)
The believers say:
This is what Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad} had promised
us, and A llah and His Messenger had spoken the truth.
(Qur 'an 33: 22)
And the hypocrites say:
llah and his Messenger promised us nothing but delusions !
(Qur 'an 33: 1 2)
Your life is the produet of your thoughts. The thoughts that you
invest in will have an indelible effect upon your life, regardless o f
whether they are happy thoughts or miserable thoughts.
A poet said:
"Fear does not fill my heart before the occurrence of that
which is feared,
And I don 't become overly distressed if that event does
occur. "

Do not be sad - Do good to others

Being of service to others leads to happiness. In an authentic


hadith, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Verily, Allah will say to His slave as H e is taking
account of him on the Day of Judgment, 'O' son o f
Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed Me. ' H e will
answer, "How can I feed You and You are the Lord ofthe
worlds ! ' He will say, 'Did you not know that My slave
I 22 Do not be sad - Do good to others

so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and


you did not feed him. Alas ! had you fed him you would
have found that (i.e. reward) with Me. O' son of Adam, I
was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink. ' He will
say, ' How can I give You drink, and You are the Lord of
the worlds ! ' He will say, 'Did you not know that My
slave so and so, the son of so and so felt thirsty and you
did not give him drink. Aias! if you had given him, you
would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me. O' son of
Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me. ' He will
say, ' How can I visit You and You are the Lord of the
worlds ! ' H e will say, ' Did you not know that My slave
so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did
not visit him. Alas! had you visited him, you would
have found Me with him. '"
Here is an interesting point; in the last third of the hadith are the
words: " ... you would have found Me with him. "
This is unlike the first two parts of the hadith: "You would have
found that (i.e. the reward for feeding and giving drink) with Me. "
The reason for the difference is that Allah, the All-Merciful, is
with those whose hearts are troubled, as is the case with the person
who is sick. And in another hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"There is reward in each moist liver (i.e. to do service to
any living creature will be rewarded). "
Also, know that Allah admitted the prostitute from the children
of Israel into Paradise because she gave a drink to a dog that was
thirsty. So what will be the case for the one who feeds other humans,
giving them drink and removing from them hardships !
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said,
"Whoever has extra provision should give from it to the
one who has no provision. And whoever has an extra
Do not be sad - Do good to o thers 123

mount should give with this extra to the one who has no
mount . "
Commanding his servant to search out for guests, Batim said in
some of his more beautiful verses :
"Bum the coals, for truly, the night is chilly,
If you bring me a guest, then I have set you free. "
And he said to his wife:
"Whenever you make food, then search
For he who is hungry, as I do not eat alone. "
Ibn Mubarak's neighbor was a Jew. H e would always feed him
before feeding his own children and would provide clothing for him
first and then for his children. Some people said to the Jew, "Sell us
your house. " He answered, "My house is for two thousand dinars.
One thousand is for the price of the house and one thousand is for
having Tbn Mubarak as a neighbor! " lbn Mubarak heard of this and
he exclaimed, "O' Allah, guide him to Islam . " Then, by the
permission of Allah, he accepted Islam.
On another occasion, lbn Mubarak passed by a caravan of
people who were traveling to make the pilgrimage to Makkah, and he
too was on his way to do the same. He saw one of the women from
the caravan take a dead crow from a cesspit. He sent his servant to
inquire about this and when he asked her, she replied, "We have had
nothing for three days except that which finds its way into it. " When
lbn Mubarak heard of this, his eyes swelled with tears. H e ordered for
all of his provision to be distributed among thos e of the caravan, and
having nothing with which to continue the joumey, he retumed to his
home and gave up making the pilgrimage for that year. Later, he saw
someone in a dream saying, "Your pilgrimage has been accepted, as
have your rites; and your sins have been forgiven."
Allah says:
1 24 Jealousy is not something nell'

And give them preference over themselves, even though they vvere in
need of that themselves. P (Qur 'an 59: 9)
One poet said:
"Even if I am a person who is far,
From his friend in terms of distance,
I offer him my help and wish to alleviate his difficulties,
And I answer his invitation and his call to me for help,
And if he dons a wonderful new outfit I will not say,
Alas, were I t o be blessed with the clothes that he wears. "
B y Allah, how wonderful are good manners and a generous soul!
No one regrets having done well even if he was extravagant in
doing so. Regret is only for the mistake or for the wrong done, even
when that wrong is a minor one.

Jealousy is not something neu;

If you hear the beating of resentful words in your ears, do not


worry - jealousy is not something new. As a poet said:
"Devote yourself to the gathering of virtues, and work,
And tum your back on someone who cools his j ealousy by
g1vmg you censure,
Know that your li fe 's-span is the season of good deeds,
In it, they may be accepted, and after is death, when all
j ealousy ceases . "
A wise person said:
"When facing criticism or the unjust rebuke, those who have
sensitive feelings must pour a certain amount of coolness into
their nerves bv force. "
Another said:
"The coward dies many deaths and the brave man dies one. "
Stop to reffect 1 25

If Allah wishes good for one of His slaves, H e covers him with
slumber as a security, as occurred to Tall:ia (may Allah be pleased
with him) before the battle of Ul:md. A short time before the battle,
while the disbelievers waited in nervous apprehension, he was
covered with a slumber that made him, on a few occasions, drop his
sword, so serene and calm did he feel.
Allah, the A lmighty, said:
iSay: 'Do you wait.for us [anything] except ane ofthe two hest things
[martyrdom ar victory}; while we awaitfor you either that A llah will
affiict you ivith a punishmentfrom Himse(for at our hands. So wait,
we too are waiting with you) (Qur 'an 9: 52)
'4And no person can ever die except by A lia h S' Leave and at an
appointed term) (Qur 'an 3: 1 45)
'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"Which of the two days of death do I fear? The day in which it
was not decreed for me to die or the day in which death was
preordained for me. As for the former, I fear it not. And as for
the latter, it is destined to happen, and even cautious ones
cannot be saved on that day. "
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"Seek out death (i.e. be brave) and you shall be granted life. "

Stop to reflect

Do not be sad, for Allah defends you and the angels ask
forgiveness for you; the believers share with you their supplications
in every prayer; the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) will
intercede for the believers; the Qur'an is replete with good promises;
and above all is the mercy of He Who is the Most Merciful.
Do not be sad: the good deed is increased so that its value is
multiplied tenfold or seven hundred fold or even much, much more.
1 26 Stop to reflect

Meanwhile, the evil deed is valued without increase or


m ultiplication, and your Lord can forgive even that. How many
times do we witness A llah 's generosity, generosity that is unmatched
by any! And benevolence from any one else cannot reach even near
His Benevolence.
If you do not associate partners with Allah, if you believe in the
true religion, and ifyou love Allah and His Messenger (bpuh), do not
feel sad. If you feel regret for your bad deeds and you rej oice when
you do a worthy aet, do not feel sad. You have much good with you
that you do not perceive.
If, in your life, you are able to establish the state of balanced
harmony that is referred to in the following hadith, do not feel sad:
"How wonderful is the state of the believer. All of his affairs are
good for him ! And that is not so, except for the believer. If he has
cause to be happy, he is thankful, and that is good for him. And if he
i s afflicted with hardship, he is patient, and that is good for him."
Do not be sad: forbearance in times of distress is the path to both
success and happiness.
And endure you patiently, your patience is not but from A llah. !
(Qur 'an 1 6: 1 2 7)
So [for mej patience is most fitting. And it is Allah [Alone] Whose
help can be sought against that which you assert. (Qur 'an 12: I 8)
So be patient, with a good patience. (Qur 'an 70: 5)
Peace be upon you for that you persevered in patience !
(Qur 'an I 3: 24)
And bear with patience whatever befalls you) (Qur 'an 3 I : 1 7)
Endure and be more patient [than your enemy], and guard your
territmy by stationing army units permanentv at the places from
where the enemy can attack you. . . (Qur 'an 3: 200)
'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"Through patience we have now achieved a good li fe. ''
S rop to reffect 127

For the people of the Sunnah, there are three things that they
resort to when faced with calamity: patience , supplication, and
waiting with expectation for a good outcome.
A poet said:
"We have poured them a glass and they have similarly poured
one for us (alluding to the blood enemies draw from each other
in battle),
But in the face of death, we were the more patient. "
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"There is none who is more patient when he hears
something offensive than Allah. They claim that H e has
a child and a wife, yet He gives them health and
. .

prov1s10n. "
The Prophet (bpuh) also said:
"May Allah have mercy on Moosa ( Moses). H e was
tested with more than this (i.e. than what I have been
tested with), and he was still patient. "
And he (bpuh) said:
"Whoever is patient, Allah will give him further
strength to continue to be patient. "
A poet said:
"I have crawled my way to distinction, and those who have
striven have reached it,
With the toi l of labor, and the sparing of no small effort,
Many have tried to reach it, and most became bored or tired
during their joumey,
And they embrace distinction that remain true and are patient,
Do not consider distinction to be an apple that you eat,
You will not achieve distinction until you beat hardship with
your patience."
1 28 Do nor be sadfi-om the \rant qfample provision

H igher goals are not achieved through dreaming or fantasizing;


they can only be reached through dedication and commitment.
Do not grieve o ver how people treat you. And Ieam this lesson
by observing how they behave with Allah.
Imam Al)mad reported a hadith in the book of Zuhd, in which the
Prophet (bpuh) relates the foliowing saying from Allah:
"Strange are you, O' son of Adam! I have created you
and you worship other than Me. I have provided for you
and you thank those besides me. I show you love by
giving you blessings and I do not need you. While you
show me animosity through your sins and you are to me
poor. My good is descending to you and your evil is
rising to Me. '

It i s mentioned i n the biography of Prophet Eesa (Jesus) (may


peace be upon him) that, by the permission of Allah, he healed thirty
sick people and cured many who were afflicted with blindness.
A fterwards they tumed on him as enemies.

Do not be sad from the want of ampk provision

Verily, the One Who provides sustenance is Allah. H e has made


it binding upon H imself that whatever provision He has written for
His slaves will reach them.
And in the heaven is your provision, and that which you are
promised. (Qur 'an 51: 22)
I f Allah is the One Who provides for the creation, why curry
favor with people? And why should one degrade himself in front of
another person in the hope of procuring from him his sustenance?
Allah said:
nd no [moving} living creature is there on earth but its provision is
due from A llah. (Qur 'an 1 1 : 6)
Appr<:ciate rhat, compared to others . .vour tria/ is light 129

Whatever ofmercy [i. e. ofgood], A llah may grant to mankind, none


can withhold it, and whatever He may withhold, none can grant it
thereajie1) (Qur 'an 35: 2)
Do not be sad, for there are means of making it easier to bear
calamity. Among them are the following:
1 . Expecting reward and recompense from A l lah, the Exalted:
Only those who are patient shall receive tlzeir rewards in ful/,
without reckoning) (Qur 'an 39: 1 0)
2. Visiting those who are afflicted and seeking comfort in that you are
better off than many others.
A poet said:
"If not for the many moumers around me,
Who weep for their brothers, I would have taken my own
life. "
So look at those who surround you. There will not be one, except
that hardship or affli ction has touched him.

Appreciate that, compared to


others, your tnal is light

If you know that your trial is not in your religion, but is in


worldly matters, then be content.
Know that no trick or artifice can be used to undo what has
already taken place. A poet said:
"Do not use trickery to change the circumstance,
For the only trick is in leaving all trickery. "
Appreciate that the choice of what is good for you or not good
for you belongs only with Allah:
q . and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you.
. .

(Qur 'an 2. 2 1 6)
130 Do not mimic the personality qf others

Do not mimic the personality of others

*-!For every nation there is a direction to which theyface. So haslen


towards all that is good) (Qur 'an 2: 1 48)
And it is He Who has made you generations coming after
generations, replacing each other on the earth. And he has raised
you in ranks, same above others") (Qur 'an 6: 1 65)
Each [group of] people knew its own place for water.
(Qur 'an 2: 60)
Every person has his own set of talents, abilities, skills, and
preferences. One aspect of the Prophet's character was his ability to
lead: he employed his Companions each in accordance with his talent
and expertise. 'Ali w as both just and wise, so the Prophet (Blessings
and Peace be upon him) appointed him to be a judge. The Prophet
(bpuh) used Mu'aadh for his knowledge; Ubaee for the Qur'an; Zayd
for rulings in matters of inheritance; Khaalid for j ihad; I:Iassaan for
poetry; and Qays ibn Thaabit for public speeches (may Allah be
pleased with them all).
To melt into the personality of another, for whatever reason, is
akin to suicide. And to imitate the natura! traits of others is to deliver
a deathblow to one's own self. Among Allah's signs that one should
marvel at are the diverse characteristics of people - such as their
talents, the different languages they speak, and their different colors.
Abu B akr (may Allah be pleased with him), for example, through his
gentleness and tendemess, greatly benefited Islam and this Nation.
'Umar, on the other hand, helped Islam and its adherents to be
victorious through h is stem demeanor and austerity. Therefore, be
comfortable with your inherent talents and abilities. Develop them,
expand on them, and benefit from them.
Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. l (Qur 'an 2: 286)
Isolation and its positive effects 13 1

Isolation and its positive effects

Tf applied with a correct understanding, i solation can be most


beneficial.
Ibn Taymiyah said:
"At times, it is necessary for the worshipper to be isolated from
others in order to pray, remember Allah, recite the Qur 'an, and
evaluate himself and his deeds. Also, isolation allows one to
supplicate, seek forgiveness, stay away from evil, and so on. "
Ibn al-Jawzi dedicated three chapters of his well-known book
Sayd al-Khatir to this topic. He said:
"I have not seen or heard of anything that brings repose, honor,
and dignity as much as seclusion does. It helps one to stay
away from evil, it protects one's honor, and it saves time. I t
keeps one away from the jealous minded and those w h o take
pleasure in your affliction. I t promotes the remembrance of the
Hereafter, and it allows one to retlect on the meeting with
Allah. In times of seclusion, one's thoughts may roam in that
which is beneficial, in that which contains wisdom . . . "

Only Allah knows the full benefits of seclusion, for in seclusion,


one's mind develops, views are ripened, the heart finds repose, and
one finds himself to be in an ideal atmosphere for worship. B y
remaining isolated at times, one distances himself from trials, from
tlattering the person who deserves no praise, and from the eyes of
jealous and envious persons. One is saved from the haughtiness of
the proud and the follies of the idiot. In isolation, one 's faults, deeds,
and sayings are all secluded behind a veil.
During periods of isolation, one is able to delve deep into a sea
of ideas and concepts. In such a state, the mind is free to form its
opinions. Isolated from the company of others, the soul is free to
achieve a state of rapture and to hunt for the stimulating thought.
132 Isolation mul its positi11e effects

When alone, one does nothing for show or ostentation, since none but
Allah sees him, and since none but Allah hears him.
Every person who was a genius, a mental giant, or a great
contributor to the human race watered the seeds of his greatness from
the well of isolation, until the seed became a plant, and then finally, a
formidable tree.
Al-Qa\fi 'Ali ibn 'Abdul 'Aziz al-Jurjani said:
"I never tasted the sweetness of life until
I became a companion of home and hook,
There is nothing more honorable than knowledge,
So I seek in no other an associate,
Truly, the only degradation is in mixing with people,
Therefore lea,e them and live nobly and stately. "
Another said:
"I found company in my solitude and I remained fervently in
my home,
So felicity was perpetual for me and my happiness grew,
I have severed human relations and I couldn 't care,
Whether the anny has gone forth or the president has given us
a visit! "
Al)mad ibn Khaleel al-J:Ianbali said:
"Whoever strives for dignity and comfort
From a long and tedious anxiety,
Let him b e one of the people,
And be contented with a little.
As long as one lives unwholesomely,
How can he find pleasure in life?
Between being poked by the deceitful
And giving flattery to the conceited,
Between tolerating the jealous
And forbearing the stingy,
Do not be shaken hy lwrdships 133

Woe to becoming acquainted with


People, and with all of their ways and follies. "
Another poet said,
"Meeting with people brings about no benefit,
Except with the increase of, 'it has been said', and, ' h e said, '
So spend less time in conversing with others, though barring,
The acquirement of knowledge or the improvement o f one's
condition. "
lbn F aris said:
"They asked how I was, and I said, well, and thank you,
A need is fulfilled and another is neglected,
When distress is such that my heart becomes constricted,
I say that perhaps one day will bring \Vith it some aid,
My comrade is my cat and my soul 's companions are my books,
And the object of my love is my night-lantern."

Do not be shahen by hardships

Hardship strengthens your heart, atones for your sins, and helps
to suppress an inclination towards pride and haughtiness. You might
remember that in times of hardship you abandoned senseless folly
and you remembered Allah. When you w ere afflicted, others
extended brotherly compassion to you, and you became the fortunate
recipient of the supplications of the righteous . At such times, you
willfully and humbly surrendered yourself to Allah 's will and
resigned yourselfto His decree. Affliction begets circumspection and
provides the afflicted with an early warning against following the
path of evil. The one upon whom calamity has fallen can display
courage with patience; and his circumstances, unlike the one who is
drunk with worldly pleasures, permit him to solemnly prepare for a
meeting with his Lord. He is able to pass judgment on this world with
1 34 Pause to think about hardships

an impartial ruling, and thus he will come to know it as something


that is not worth pining for. Other points associated with the wisdom
and benefits of sometimes facing hardship, though they might escape
our comprehension, are definitely present and known to the Lord of
all that exists.

Pause to think about hardships

D o not be sad, for sadness will weaken your determination and


the quality ofyour worship. One of the offshoots of depression is that
it often causes one to be pessimistic, to find blame in everyone,
including - and we seek refuge in Allah - Allah Himself.
D o not be sad, for sadness, grief, and anxiety are the roots of
mental problems, the sources of stress.
D o not be sad, for you have with you the Qur'an, supplication,
remembrance, and prayer. You can lighten the load of your anxiety
by giving others, doing well, and being productive.
D o not be sad, and do not surrender to sadness by taking the easy
path of idleness and inactivity, but pray, glorify your Lord, read,
write, work, visit relatives and friends, and reflect.
Invoke Me [ask me for anything} I will respond to your
[invocation}. (Qur 'an 40: 60)
Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret. He likes not the
aggressors) (Qur 'an 7: 55)
So, call you [O ' Muhammad and the believers} upon [or invoke}
A llah making [your} worship pure for Him [Alone} [by worshipping
none but Him and by doing religious deeds sincereZvfor A llah s sake
o n (v and not to sho w off and not to set up rivals with Him in
Worshipj) (Qur 'an 40: 14)
Do not he sad - Thefundamentals qf'happiness 135

!Say [O ' Muhammad}: 'Jnvoke A llah or invoke the Most Beneficent


[Allah], by whatever name you invoke Him [it is the same}, for to
Him belong the Best Names. (Qur 'an 1 7: Il 0)

Do not be sad - The .fundamentals of happiness

1 . Know that if you do not live within the scope of today, your
thoughts will be scattered, your affairs will become confused, and
your worrying will increase - these realities explain the hadith:
"When you are in the morning, do not expect to see the
evening, and when you are in the evening, do not expect
to see the moming. "
2 . Forget the past and all that it contained. Being absorbed in things
that are gone is sheer lunacy.
3. Do not be preoccupied with the future. Because the future is in the
world of the unseen, do not let it bother you until it comes.
4. Do not be shaken by criticism; instead, be firm. And know that, in
proportion to your worth, the level of people 's criticism rises.
5. Faith in Allah and good deeds: these are the ingredients that make
up a good and happy life.
6. Whoever desires peace, tranquility, and comfort can find it all in
the remembrance of Allah.
7. You should know with certainty that everything that happens,
occurs in accordance with a divine decree.
8. Do not expect gratitude from anyone.
9. Train yourself to be ready and prepared for the worst eventuality.
1 0. Perhaps what has happened is in your best interest (though you
may not comprehend how that is so).
1 1 . Everything that is decreed for the Muslirn is best for him.
1 2 . Enumerate the blessings of Allah and be thankful for them.
1 3 . You are better off than many others.
136 Why grieve lrhen you have the six ingredients?

1 4. Relief comes from one hour to the next.


1 5 . In both times of hardship and ease, one should turn to
supplication and prayer.
1 6. Calamities should strengthen your heart and reshape your outlook
in a positive sense.
I 7. Indeed, with each difficulty there is relief.
1 8 . Do not let trifles be the cause of your destruction.
1 9. Indeed, your Lord is Oft-Forgiving.
20. Do not be angry. . . Do not be angry... Do not be angry.
2 1 . Li fe is bread, water, and shade; so do not be perturbed by a Jack of
any other material thing.
'4And in the heaven is your provision, and that which you are
promised. (Qur 'an 5 1 : 22)
2 2 . M ost evil that is supposed to happen never occurs.
23. Look at those w ho are afflicted and be thankful.
24. When Allah loves a people, He makes them endure trials.
25. You should constantly repeat those supplications that the Prophet
(bpuh) taught us to say during times of hardship.
26. Work hard at something that is productive, and cast off idleness.
2 7. Don 't spread rumors and don't listen to them. Ifyou hear a rumor
inadvertently, then don 't believe it.
28. Your malice and your striving to seek revenge are much more
harmful to your heal th than they are to your antagonist.
29. The hardships that befall you atone for your sins.

Why grieve when you have the six ingredients ?

The author of Ease Ajier Dfficulty mentioned the story of a wise


person who was afflicted by calamity. His brothers went to him and
tried to console him over his loss. He answered, ' I have put together a
remedy that is composed of six ingredients. ' They asked him what
Why grieve H'hen you have the six ingredients? I3 7

those ingredients were, and he answered,


"The first is to have a firm trust in Allah, the Almighty. The
second is resigning oneself to the inescapable faet that
everything that is decreed will happen and will follow its
unalterable course. The third is that patience has no substitute
for the positive effect it has on the afflicted. The fourth is an
unwavering belief in the implications of this phrase: ' Without
showing forbearance, what will l accomplish?' The fifth i s to
ask myself, 'Why should I be a willful party to my own
destruction?' The sixth is knowing that from one hour to the
next, circumstances are transformed and difficulties vanish . "
Do not grieve i f others inflict upon you harm or pain, nor should
you grieve if you are oppressed or are the subject of envy.
Shaykh al-Islam ( Ibn Taymiyah) said:
"The believer does not seek quarrel or revenge; nor does he
find blame or fault in others. "
Do not despair i f you face obstacles or problems; rather, forbear
and be patient.
"O' time, i f you have any of that leftover,
From which you bring down the worthy. then let me have it. "
Patience, as opposed to anxiety, bears the fruit of comfort; and
the one who does not voluntarily show patience will have it forced
upon him by circumstances. Al-Mutanabbi said:
"Time has showered me with trouble until
The arrows on my heart have formed a cover,
That now when I am struck with an arrow,
The blade of it strikes into the shaft o f another,
Now I live without a care for troubles .
Since I have not profited by caring. "
Do not be distressed if someone refuses you a favor, or if you are
frowned upon, or if the miserly person refuses you.
1 38 Verses upon which to reffect

If, by refraining from asking others, you prevent the sweat of


humiliation from pouring down your face, then a wooden hut or a
tent of cloth is better for you than a spacious house and a beautiful
garden, material things that will only bring you worry and disquiet.
Tribulation is similar to sickness: it must run its course before it
goes away, and the one who is hasty in attempting to remove it often
causes it to augment and increase. It is imperative that the one who is
afflicted be patient; he must wait with hope for relief, and he must be
persistent in his prayers.

The fundamentals of happiness -


Verses upon which to reflect

And never give up hope o.fA llah s Mercy. Certain(v no ane despairs
af A llah s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve. P
(Qur 'an 12: 87)
And who despairs of the Mercy af his Lord except those who are
astray? (Qur 'an 1 5: 56)
Surely, A llah s Mercy is [ever} near unto the good-doers.
(Qur 'an 7: 56)
You know not, it ma_v be that Allah will a.fterward bring same new
thing to pass. (Qur 'an 65: I)
It may be that you dislike a thing which is good.for you and that you
like a thing which is bad.for you. Allah knows but you do not know )
(Qur 'an 2: 2 1 6)
!A llah is ve1)1 Gracious and Kind to His slaves. (Qur 'an 42: 1 9)
. . . and My Meny embraces all things. (Qur 'an 7: 156)
'Be not sad [or afraid}, surely Allah is with us. (Qur 'an 9: 40)
l[Remember} when you sought help o.fyour Lord and He answered
you. fQur 'an 8: 9)
Your best co mp an ion is a book 139

And He it is Who sends down the rain afler the_1' have despaired, and
spreads abroad His Mercy ) (Qur 'an 42: 28)
+!And they used to call on Us with hope andfea1: and used to humble
themselves befare Us. (Qur 'an 2 1 : 90)

Your best companion is a book

An activity that brings about joy is for you to read a book and
develop your mind through the acquisition of knowledge.
Al-Jaahi?, an Arab writer from centuries ago, advised one to
repel anxiety through the reading of books:
"The book is a companion that does not praise you and does
not entice you to evil. It is a friend that does not bore you, and
it is a neighbor that causes you no harm. It is an acquaintance
that desires not to extract from you favors through flattery, and
it does not deceive you with duplicity and lies. When you are
poring through the pages of a book, your senses are stimulated
and your intellect sharpens . . . Through reading the biographies
of others, you gain an appreciation of common people while
leaming the ways of kings. I t can even be said that you
sometimes leam from the pages of a b ook in a month, that
which you do not leam from the tongues of men in a century.
All this benefit, yet no loss in wealth and no need to stand at
the door of the teacher who is waiting for his fees or to leam
from someone who is lower than you i n manners. The book
obeys you by night as it does by day, both when you are
traveling and when you are at home. A book is not impaired by
sleep nor does it tire in the late hours of the night. I t is the
teacher who is there for you whenever you are in need o f it, and
it is the teacher who, if you refuse to give to it, does not refuse
to give to you. If you abandon it, it does not decrease in
1 40 Sayings that deal 1rith thc> virtues <d. hooks

obedience. And when all tum against you, showing you


enmity, it remains by your side. As long as you are remotely
attached to a book, it suffices you from having to keep
company with those that are idle. It prevents you from sitting
on your doorstep and watching those who pass by. It saves you
from mixing with those that are frivolous in their character,
foul in their speech, and woeful in their ignorance. If the only
benefit of a hook was that it keeps you from foolish
daydreaming and prevents you from frivolity, it would
certainly be considered a true friend who has given you a great
fa vor. "

Sayings that deal with the virtues of books

Abu ' Ubaydah said:


"Al-Muhallab gave his son the foliowing advice: 'O' son, do
not Iinger in the marketplace unless you are visiting the maker
of armor or the hook vendor. "'
Al-f:lasan al-Lulu' ee said:
"Forty years have passed, and I have not dozed off in the day
or in the night. . . except that a book was resting on my chest."
lbn al-Jahm said:
"I f I feel drowsy when it is time to sleep - and wasteful is the
sleep that exceeds one 's needs - I take up a book from the
books of wisdom and I find bliss in coming across a pearl ( of
wisdom) . . . I aJn more alert when I am happily engaged in
.

reading and leaming than I am when I hear the braying of the


donkey or the shrill noise of something breaking. "
He also said:
" l f l find a hook to be agreeable and enjoyable, and if I deem it
to be beneficiaL you will see me hour after hour checking how
The hene.fi ts of reading 141

many pages are left, from fear ofbeing close to the end. And if
it is many volumes with a great number of pages, my li fe and
my happiness are complete."
And the best, highest, and worthiest of books is:
[This is the] Book [the Qur 'an} sent down unto you [O '
Muhammad), so let not your breast be narrmv therefrom, that you
warn thereby, and a reminder unto the belie1 ers.l (Qur 'an 7: 2)

The benefits of reading

1 . Reading repels anxiety and grief.


2 . While busy reading, one is prevented from delving into fal sehood.
3. Habitual reading makes one too busy to keep company with the
idle and the inactive.
4. By reading often, one develops eloquence and clarity in speech.
5. Reading helps to develop the mind and p urify its thoughts.
6. Reading increases one in knowledge and improves both memory
and understanding.
7. By reading, one benefits from the experiences of others: the
wisdom of the wise and the understanding of scholars.
8. By reading often, one develops the ability to both acquire and
process knowledge and to leam about the different fields of
knowledge and their applications to life.
9. One's faith will increase when one reads beneficial books,
especially books written by practicing Muslim writers. The book is
the best giver of sermons and it has a forceful effect in guiding one
towards goodness and away from evil.
1 0. Reading helps to relax one's mind from distraction and to save
one 's time from being wasted.
11. By reading often, one gains a mastery over many words and
leams the di fferent constructions of sentences; moreover, one
1 42 Pause to reftect

improves his ahility to grasp concepts and to understand what is


written 'hetween the l ines.'
"Nourishment of the soul is in concepts and meanings,
And not in food and drink. "

Pause to reflect

' Umar (may Allah b e pleased with him) said:


"We have found that the hest life is that which is accompanied
by patience."
He also said:
"The hest li fe that we have experienced, is that of patience, and
if patience were a man, he would be most generous. "
' Al i (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"Truly, patience is to faith as the head is to the hody. I f the head
is severed, the hody hecomes wasted. "
Then, he raised his voice and said:
"Verily, there is no faith in the man who has no patience. "
H e also said:
"Patience is a 1nount that does not stumhle or trip. "
Al-I:Iasan said:
" Patience is a treasure from the treasures of goodness, a
treasure that Al lah does not give away except to a slave ( of
H is) whom H e regards as heing worthy. "
'Umar ihn 'Abdul 'Aziz said:
"Whenever Allah gives a blessing to one of His slaves and
then removes it from him and supplants it with patience, then
that which replaces is invariahly better than that which is being
replaced. "
Sulayman ihn al-Qaasim said:
"The reward for every deed other than patience is known. "
Do not grie11e There is another /(fe to emne
- 1 43

Allah, the Exalted, said:


On(y those who are patient shall receive their rewards in Juli,
without reckoning) (Qur 'an 3 9: 1 0)

Do not grieve - There is another life to come

The day will come when Allah will gather together the first of
the creation and the last of it. The knowledge ofthis occurrence alone
should reassure you of Allah's justice. So whoever's money is
usurped here shall find it there; whoever is oppressed here shall find
justice carried out there; and whoever oppresses here shall find his
punishment there.
Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher, said,
"The drama of this life is not complete; there must be a second
scene to it, for we see the tyrant and his victims without seeing
justice being executed. We see the conqueror and the
subjugated, without the latter tinding any revenge. Therefore
there must be another world, where justice will be carried
out. "
Ash-Shaykh 'Ali at-Tantawi, commenting on this, said:
"This statement suggests a confession from this foreigner (to
Islam), of the existence of a Hereafter where judgment will
take p lace. "
An Arab poet said:
"lf the minister and his delegates rule despotically,
And the judge on earth is unjust in his j udgments,
Then woe, followed by woe after woe
Upon the judge of the earth from the j udge Who is above. "
This Day shall every person be recompensedfor what he earned. No
injustice [shall be done to anybody}. Truly, Allah is Sw(/i in
reckoning) (Qur 'an 40: 1 7)
1 44 Do not feel o verly stressed irhen work piles up

Do not feel overly stressed


when work piles up

Robert Louis Stevenson said:


"Every person is capable of performing his daily tasks, no
matter how difticult they are, and every person is capable of
living happily during his day until the sun sets: and this is the
meaning o f life. "
Stephen Leacock said:
"The young child says: when I will become a bigger boy. The
boy says: when I become a teenager, and when that time
comes, he says: when I will marry. What about after marriage?
And what comes after all of these stages? One's thoughts
constantly fol lo w the tune ofthe following: when I will be able
to retire. B ut \\'hen one actually reaches old age and looks
back, he is scorched by a cold wind. He lost out on his whole
life that dwindled away without ever living inside of it. And
thus we leam, o nly when it is too late, that life is to be lived in
every breathing minute and hour. "
Such is the state of those who put off repenting from their sins.
One of our pious predecessors said:
"I wam you of delaying and saying that I will do it later, for
this is a phrase that prevents one from doing good and causes
one to fal l behind in deeds of righteousness."
!Lea ve them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied vvith
[false} hope. They will come to know! (Qur 'an 15: 3)
The French philosopher, Montaigne, said:
"My life was fil led with bad luck that never showed mercy. "
I assert that despite their knowledge and intelligence, many
famous thinkers kne\\ nothing of the wisdom behind their own
creation. They were not guided by the teachings that Allah sent
Gr;eve not and ask yourse{f' thefo!loHing questions 1 45

through His Messenger, Muhammad (bpuh).


And hefor whom A llah has not appointed light, for him there is no
light. (Qur 'an 24: 4 0)
Verily, We showed him the way, whether he be grate.ful ar
ungrateful. (Qur 'an 76: 3)
Dante said:
"Consider that this day will not occur again. "
Better and more beautiful and complete is the hadith:
"Pray as if it is your farewell prayer. "
Whoever puts it into his mind that today is his last day, will make
a fresh repentance, will do good deeds, and will strive to be obedient
to his Lord, the Almighty and His Messenger (bpuh).

Grieve not and ask yourself the follolving questions

1 . Do I put off living in the present because of fears and


apprehensions about the future or because of hopes of the magical
garden beyond the horizon?
2. Do I embitter my present life by mulling over events that occurred
in the past?
3 . Do I wake up in the moming with an intention of spending my day
usefully?
4. Do I find that I am benefiting from my life when I try to
concentrate on a present situation or task?
5. When will l begin to live in the present moment, without worrying
too much about the past and future? Next week? Tomorrow? Or
today?

Do not despair when you face a dijficult situation

If you find yourself in a tough situation, do the fol lowing:


1 46 Do not despair irhen youface a d{fficult situation

1 . Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?


2 . Prepare yourself to cope and deal with that worst-case scenario.
3 . I f something bad does occur, meet it with calm nerves in order to
deal with the situation better.
Those [i.e. believers} unto whom the people [hypocrites} said:
' Verily, the people [pagans} have gathered against you [a great
army}, therefore, fear them. ' But it [only} increased them in Faith,
and they said: 'A llah [A lone} is Sufficientfor us, and He is the Best
Disposer of affairs [for us]. ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 73)

Contemplate these verses

And whosoeverfears A llah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make
a way for him to get out [from every difficulty]. And He will provide
him from [sources} he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his
trust in A llah, then He will suffice him. (Qur 'an 65: 2-3)
'4.Allah will grant afier hardship, ease. (Qur 'an 65: 7)
The Prophet (B lessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"And know that victory comes with patience, and with
hardship there is a way out, and with difficulty comes
ease. "
In another hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) related that Allah said:
"I am with my slave's thoughts about Me, so let hirn
think of Me as he chooses. "
Allah will suffice _iou against them. And He is the A ll-Heare1 the
A ll-Knower) (Qur 'an 2: 137)
And put your trust in the Ever Living One Who dies not. . )
(Qur 'an 25: 58)
Perhaps A llah may bring a victory or a decision according to His
Will. J (Qur 'an 5: 52)
<{None besides A llah can avert it, [or advance it, or delay it}. l
Depression weakens the body and the soul 147

(Qur 'an 53: 58)

Depression weakens the body and the soul

Dr. Alexis Carlyle, a Nobel-laureate in medicine, said:


"Working people who do not know how to deal with anxiety
and stress are more prone than others are to a premature death. "
Indeed, everything that takes place occurs according to a divine
decree. A person must nonetheless take the necessary steps to avoid
difficulties, and so Carlyle rightly points out that anxiety is one of the
factors that lead to the body being damaged.

Depression: A cause of ulcers

"You will not be afflicted by an ulcer by virtue of what you eat,


but instead by virtue of what eats you." This is a quote taken from Dr.
Joseph F. Mantagno 's hook, The Problem of Nervousness.
The renowned Arab poet Al-Mutanabbi said:
"And stress transforms obesity into scrawniness,
It whitens the hair of the young man and makes him a mess. "
And according to Life magazine, ulcers rank tenth in the list of
deadly diseases.

Some other effects of depression

I recently read the translation of Dr. Edward Bodowlski's book,


Stop Worrying and Seek Betterment. Here are some of the chapter
titles from his book:
- What Anxiety does to the Heart
- High Blood Pressure Feeds off of Anxiety
- Anxiety may be the Cause of some Forms of Rheumatism
1 48 Whar depression and an{?er do

- As a Favor to your insides, Seek to Decrease the Level of your


Anxiety
- How Anxiety can be Considered a Cause of the Common Cold
- Anxiety and the Thyroid Gland
- The Victim of Di abetes and Anxiety
Dr. Carl Maninger, a specialist in psychology, wrote a book
called Man Against Himse(l In it, he says:
'"Dr. Maninger will not give you the principles ofhow to avoid
anxiety, but instead he will give you an astonishing report on
how we destroy our own body and minds through anxiety and
nervousness, malice and rancor, fear, and feelings of revenge."
fAnd those who pardon men; veriy, A llah loves the good-doer.
(Qur 'an 3: 134)
Among the more salient lessons that we should leam from this
verse is that we should have a sound heart, peace of mind, calm
nerves, and a feeling of happiness.
The French philosopher Montaigne once said:
"I wish to help you in dealing with your problems with my
hands, but not with my liver and lungs. "

What depression and anger do

Doctor Russell Cecil of Comell University mentioned four


widespread causes of arthritis:
1 . Marital strife.
2. Financial difficulties and depression.
3 . Loneliness and anxiety.
4. Malice and rancor.
Doctor William Mark Gaungil, while addressing the Federation
of American Dentists, remarked:
""Unhappy feel ings like anxiety and fear possibly affect the
Bcar your hardships 1rith screnity 149

distribution of calcium in the body, and in consequence, can


lead to tooth decay. "

Bear your hardships with serenity

Dale Carnegie said:


"African-Americans that live in the South along with the
Chinese rarely fall prey to those heart <liseases that result from
anxiety. This can be attributed to the serene and casual way in
which they lead their lives. "
He also said:
"The number of Americans that make suicide attempts is
greater than the number of those who die as a result of the five
most deadly diseases combined. "
This i s a startJing statistic that should not b e taken lightly.

Hold a good opinion of your Lord

William James said:


"God forgives us our sins, but our nervous systems do not . "
Ibn al-Wazeer wrote in his book A l-Awaaim wa al-Qawaaim :
"Verily, to be hopeful of Allah 's mercy opens the doors of
optimism for one of His slaves, making him more avid in
worship, and inspiring him to be more enthusiastic in
perfonning voluntary acts of worship and racing to perform
good deeds. "
This is true, especially because some peopl e are not moved to do
good deeds except when they recall Allah's rnercy, forgiveness, and
generosity. As a consequence of reflecting on these qualities, they
seek closeness to Allah through diligently performing good deeds.
150 When your thoughts wander

U'hen your thoughts wander

Thomas Edison s aid: "There is no subterfuge that one may resort


to in order to tlee from his thoughts. "
One can con firm the accuracy of this statement from experience,
for even when reading or writing, one is constantly diverted by
inappropriate thoughts. One of the hest means of contro lling such
thoughts is to work at something that is at once interesting and useful.

Embrace constructive criticism

Andre Moro said :


"Everything that i s i n harmony with our personal inclinations,
appears to us as a truth, and everything else only serves to
provoke our anger. "
A prime example of this is when we are given advice or
criticism. For the most part, we adore praise and our spirits are lifted
when we are the obj ects of such attentions, even if we are praised for
the wrong reasons. On the other hand, we hate criticism and
disparagement, even if what is said about us happens to be true.
And when they are called to A llah [i.e. His Words, the Qur 'an} and
His Messenger, to judge between them, lo! A party ofthem refuse [to
come} and turn away. But (/'the right is with them, they come to Him
willingly with submission) (Qur 'an 24: 48-49)
William James said:
"When you make a resolute decision to do something on any
given day, you will be totally rid of worries that seize and
subjugate you conceming the results of your endeavors. "
What he means is that when you make a judicious decision
based on logic and a sound premise, then you should carry out that
decision. Furthermore, you must not give way to doubts, for doubts
Embrace constructire criticism 151

beget nothing but more doubts. And then afterwards, do not look
behind. An Arab poet said:
"If you are of sound judgrnent, show resolution,
For ill judgment is in hesitation. "
Showing courage in making decisions can save you from
anxiety and confusion.
And when the matter is resolved on, then (f rhey had been true to
Allah, it would have been better for them. (Qur 'an 4 7: 2 1)
Dr. Richard Cabot of Harvard University wrote in his hook How
Humans Live:
"As a physician, I am a proponent of work as a remedy for
those who suffer from nervousness that results from doubts,
fears, and indecisiveness. Work inspires bravery; it was self
confidence that made Emerson so superb . "
Then when the [Friday congregational} prayer isfinished, you may
disperse through the land, and seek the Bounty ofA llah [by working,
etc.] . . ) (Qur 'an 62: 1 0)
George Bernard Shaw said:
"Perhaps the secret of depression is in allowing yourself to
have time for superfluous thought, especially in whether you
are happy or not. Don 't allow such thoughts to creep into your
mind; rather, you should remain steadfast in working. When
you apply yourself to a serious task, your blood will begin to
circulate and your mind will be spurred into action. You will
find that your new life has quickly been removed of anxiety
and worrisome thoughts. Work, and do so on a continual basis;
for this is the most inexpensive rernedy available on the face of
the earth and the most effective. "
ftAnd say [O ' Muhammad} 'Do deeds! A llah will see your deeds, and
[so will} His Messenger and the believers. (Qur 'an 9: 105)
And a wise saying of the Arabs goes:
152 Most rumors are baseless

"Life is too short to make it even shorter through disputes. "


He [Allah} will say: 'What numher ofyears did you stay an earth ? '
They will say: ' We stayed a day or part of a day. Ask of those who
keep account. ' He [A llah] will say: ' You stayed not but a little, f-

you had only known .' (Qur 'an 24: 112-114)

Most rumors are baseless

General George Kruk, known for his subjugation of the native


Indians, wrote the following on page 77 of his famous journal:
"Almost all of the misery and anxiety of the Indians originates from
their imagination and not from reality. "
They think that eve1y cry is against them) (Qur 'an 63: 4)
iHad they marched out with you, they would have added to you
nothing except disorder, and they would have hurried ahout in your
m idst [spreading corruption} and sowing sedition among you")
(Qur 'an 9: 47)
Professor Hawks of Columbia University said,
" Either there is or there isn't a remedy for a given problem. If a
remedy does exist for a specific problem, find it; and if not,
then don 't bother yourself about it. "
And in an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Allah has not sent down a sickness except that He has
also sent down for it a cure. He knows it who knows it,
and he is ignorant of it who is ignorant of it (so even if
the most famous doctor is ignorant of it, it still exists)."

Gentleness averts confrontations

A Japanese teacher s aid to his pupils,


Gen1leness avert.\ confrontations 153

"To bow is to be like the willow, and to n ot return force is to be


like the oak tree. "
And in a hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"The believer is like the green plant; the wind blows it
to the left and to the right."
The wise person is like water, for water does not crash into a
rock, trying to pass through it. lnstead, it comes to it from the left and
from the right, from above and from below.
In another hadith, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"The believer is like a camel whose reins are on its nose.
If it were made to kneel on a rock, it would do so. "

Yesterday will never return

In arder that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get . . .

(Qur 'an 5 7: 23)


Adam said to Moosa (Moses) may peace be upon them,
"Do you blame me for that which Allah had decreed
upon me forty years befare He created me. "
Conceming this last saying, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Adam overcame Moosa in his arguments - Adam
overcame Moosa in his arguments - Adam overcame
Moosa in his arguments. "
Search for happiness inside of you, and not around you or
outside of you.
The prolific English poet, Milton, said:
"Verily, the mind on its own is capable of transforming
paradise into hell and hell into paradise ! "
Al-Mutanabbi wrote:
"The one who is talented suffers because of (his unbalanced
genius) while he is rich,
1 54 This file does not deserve our grief'

Meanwhile the ignorant one is poor, and yet he is smiling."

This life does not deseroe our grief

Napoleon exclaimed in Saint Helena:


"I have not known (even) six happy days in my whole life . "
The Caliph, H isham ibn 'Abdul-Malik, said:
"I have attempted to recall and enumerate the number of happy
days in my life, and I have found them to be thirteen in total. "
And his father would often repine and say,
"Would that I had never become the Caliph."
The eminent preacher lbn Sammack once visited H aroon ar
Rasheed. The latter felt thirsty and asked for water to drink. lbn
Sammack said, "O' Ruler of the faithful, if you were refused this
drink, would you bargain for it with half of your empire? " He said,
"Yes. " When he finis hed drinking it, lbn Sammack followed up with
another question, "If, due to some sickness, you were unable to
discharge this drink (through urine), would you pay half of your
empire's wealth to b e able to remove it from your body?" He
answered, "Yes. " lbn Sammack then said, "Therefore, there is no
good in a kingdom that is not even equal to a drink of water. "
The whole world and whatever is in it has no value, weight, or
meaning if it is devoid of faith. Iqbal said:
"When faith is lost then so is peace,
And there is no life for the one, who is not enlivened by
religion,
Whoever is pl eased with a life bereft of faith
H as made total ruin to be life's substance."
Emerson concluded his essay on self-reliance with the following:
"Political triumph, increase in wage, a cure to your sickness, or
a return to happy days - these all seem to loom for you in the
Ponder these points 155

horizon. But don 't believe it all because things will not be as
you expected them to be, and because nothing can bring you
peace except yourself. "
Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased [yourse(fl and well-p leasing
unto Himl En ter you, then, among My honored slaves.
(Qur 'an 89: 28-29)
A renowned philosopher and novelist said,
"The indispensability of removing wicked nations from our
thoughts is more critical than that of removing tumors and
diseases from our bodies."
And there are more warnings in the Qur an about diseases of
ideas and beliefs than there are conceming bodi ly ailments.
The French philosopher Montaigne said:
"A person is not influenced by what happens as much as he is
by his opinion regarding what happens. "
And in the following hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) supplicated:
"O' Allah, make me pleased with Your decree, so that I
may know that whatever has befallen me was not meant
to miss me, and what has passed me by, was not meant
to be in my lot. "

Pander these points

Do not be sad, because sadness causes you to regret the past, to


have misgivings concerning the future, and to make you waste away
your present.
Do not be sad, because it causes the heart to contract, the face to
frown, the spirit to weaken, and hope to vanish.
Do not be sad, because your sadness pleases your enemy, angers
your friend, and makes the j ealous rejoice.
156 As long as you harefaith in A llah , don 't he sad

Do not be sad, because by being sad, you are complaining


against the divine decree and showing vexation at what is written for
you.
Do not be sad, because grief cannot return to you the one that is
lost or is gone away. It cannot resurrect the dead, it cannot change
fate, or bring any benefit whatsoever.
Do not be sad, b ecause sadness is often from the devil and is a
kind of hopelessness .
Have We not opened your breast .for you [O ' Muhammad] ? And
removedfrom you your burden, Which weighed down on your back?
And raised high your farne? So verily, with the hardship, there is
relief, Verily, with the hardship, there is relief [i.e. there is one
hardship with nvo relief'i, so one hardship cannot overcome hvo
relief;]. So when you have finished [from your occupation], then
stand up for Allah s H1orship [i. e. stand up for prayer]. And to your
Lord [Alone] turn [all your intentions and hopes and] your
invocations. (Qur 'an 94: 1 -8)

As long as you have faith in Allah, don 't be sad

Faith in Allah, the Almighty, is to happiness and peace, while


disbelief is to confusion and misery. I have read about many
intelligent people of a certain kind, some who might even be called
geniuses, geniuses though whose hearts are bereft of the light of
guidance. And as such , they spoke wicked words about the Shari'ah
(lslamic law). These are two examples that come to mind: Abu al
' U laa al-Ma'arri said about the Shari 'ah, "Contradiction, conceming
which we can do noth ing but stay quiet. " Second, is the saying of lbn
Seena, "The element that influences nature is the active intellect. "
I thus came to know that to the degree that one has faith i n his
heart will one be happy. More recent sayings, similar in meaning to
As fong as you lwvej{1ith in A llah . don 1 he sad 157

the two above, are the offspring o f the evil words of old that were
spoken by Fir'aun:
Fir 'aun [Pharaoh} said: 'O ' chief! I knoH' not that you have an
ilah [a god} other than me" ) (Qur 'an 28: 38)
'4.Fir 'aun said: 'I am your lord, most high. '}) (Qur 'an 79: 24)
James Allen, author of How Man Thinks, said:
"Man will come to know that each time he changes his
opinions and thoughts conceming things and other people,
those same things and people will in their part also change" .
Suppose someone to have changed his thinking, and we will
be astonished to leam how quickly the state of his material li fe
changes. Therefore the sacred thing that shapes our goals is
our own selves. "
Regarding incorrect thinking and its effects, Allah, the Exalted, says:
'4.Nay, but you thought that the Messenger {1l1uhammad} and the
believers would never return to theirfamilies; and that seemedfair in
your hearts, and you did think an evil thought and you became a
useless people going for destruction. (Qur 'an 48: 1 2)
(!And they thought ivrongly o_fAllah - the thought afignorance. They
said, 'Have we any part in the ajfair? ' Say you [O ' Muhammad} :
'/ndeed the affair belongs wholly to A llah. ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 54)
James Allen also said:
"Everything that a person accomplishes is a direct result of his
personal thinking". And man is capable of triumphing and of
achieving his goals through his thinking he will remain weak
and miserable if he refuses to acknowl edge this. "
Allah, the .Almighty, said of true determination and correct thought:
{And f the_v had intended to march out, certainv, they ivould have
made same preparation for it, but Allah lVas a verse to their heing
sent forth, so He made them lag hehind. " l (Qur 'an 9: 4 6)
158 Do not griere over trivialities . . .

Had A llah known ofany good in them, He would indeed have made
them listen . . ) (Qur 'an 8: 23)
He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down As-Sakinah
[calmness and tranquility} upon them, and He rewarded them with a
near victory. . . (Qur 'an 48: 1 8)

Do not grieve over trivialities


for the entire world is trivial

A righteous person was once thrown into a lion's cage, and Allah
then saved him from its claws. He was later asked, "What were you
thinking about at the time . " H e said, "I was considering the saliva of
a lion - whether it i s considered by scholars to be pure or impure
(i.e. whether, when I die, I will be in a state of purity or not). "
Allah described those who were with the Prophet (Blessings and
Peace be upon him) according to their intentions:
Am ong you are some that desire this world and same that desire the
Hereafter. (Qur 'an 3: 152)
lbn al-Qayyim mentioned that a person 's value is measured
according to his detennination and his goals. A wise person once said
words to the same effect:
"Inform me o f a man 's determination and I will tell you what
kind of man h e is. "
A vessel capsized at sea, and a worshipper was hurled into the
water. H e began to make ablution, one limb at a time. He managed to
get to shore and was saved. He was asked about the ablution and why
he made it, to which he replied, "I wanted to make ablution so that I
would die in a state of purity. "
Imam Al)mad, during the pangs of death, was pointing to his
beard while others were making his ablution for him, reminding them
not to miss a spot.
Do not grieve O \'er trivialities. " 159

So A llah gave them the reward of this world, and the excellent
reward of the Hereafle1: (Qur 'an 3: 1 48)
Do not grieve when you are shown overt enmity, for if you
forgive and forget, you will have achieved nobi lity in this world and
honor in the next.
But whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due
from A llah.P (Qur 'an 42: 40)
Shakespeare said words to the effect of,
"Don 't light the oven too much for your enemy in order not to
bum yourself by the flame. "
Someone said t o Saalim ibn 'Abdullah ibn " Umar, a scholar from
the early generations of Islam, "You are an evil man." He quickly
replied, "None knows me save you."
A man said in a verbal attack to Abu Bakr ( may Allah be pleased
with him):
"By Allah, I will curse you with such curses that will enter
with you into your grave. " He calmly answered, "Nay, but
they shall enter with you into yours."
And someone said to 'Amr ibn al-'Aa,
"I will dedicate myself to waging war against you . " ' Amr
replied, "Now have you fallen into what supersedes all else,
and it will be your preoccupation (i.e. your misery). "
General E isenhower once exclaimed:
"Let us not waste one minute in thought over those whom we
do not love."
The mosquito said to the tree:
"Remain firm, for I wish to fly away and leave you . " The tree
answered, "By Allah, I felt not your landing on me ! Then how will I
feel you when you fly away. "
Hatim said:
"I forgive the generous one when he saves some of his wealth,
160 This is how 1he world is

And I tum away from the curses of the accursed one


generously. "
And (l they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with
dignity) (Qur 'an 25: 72)
And when thefoolish address them [with bad wordsj they reply back
with m ild words of gentleness) (Qur 'an 25: 63)
C onfucius said:
"The angry man is always replete with poison . "
One man asked the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him)
to give him advice three times. He (bpuh) answered each time:.
"Don 't be angry. "
The Prophet (bpuh) said of anger in the foliowing hadith:
"Anger is an ember from the fire."
The Devil overcomes man on three occasions: when he is angry,
when he feels lust, and when he is in a state of forgetfulness.

This is how the world is

Marcus Aurelius, one ofthe more wise ofthe Roman Emperors,


stated one day:
"Today, I shall meet people who speak much, who are selfish,
loathsome, and who love only themselves. Yet I will not be
annoyed or bewildered by them, because I don 't imagine the
rest of the world to be any different. "

Strive to help others

Aristotle said:
"The ideal person is he who takes pleasure in serving others,
and who is ashamed when others do things for him, since
showing compassion is a sign of superiority, while receiving it
Do not feel depr;ved as lang as you have . . . 161

i s a sign o f failure. "


More concise and to the point is the following hadith:
"The Opper Hand is betler than the Lower Hand . "
The upper hand refers to the giving hand, and the lower one
refers to the receiving hand.

Do not feel deprived as long as you have a waf of


bread, a gf,ass of water and clothes on your back

A mariner once became lost at sea, and remained lost for twenty
one days. When he was saved, someone asked him what the greatest
lesson was that he took away with him from the experience. H e
answered,
"The biggest lesson that I leamed from it was that if you have
fresh water and sufficient food, you should never complain. "
It has been said that, "Life in its entirety is a morsel of food and a
drink of water. Whatever exceeds that is excess. "
Jonathan Swift said that the best doctors in the world are "the
proper diet doctor, " "the rest doctor" and, "the doctor of
happiness ... "
The reasoning behind Swift's comment is that corpulence is a
reprehensible disease that causes the level of one's intelligence to
diminish. Meanwhile, rest and moderation and happiness are
satisfying forms of nourishment for the mind, heart, and soul.

Blesrings in disguise

Dr. Samuel Johnson said:


"The habit of looking on the bright side in every circumstance
is more valuable than having a large income."
1 62 You are created unique

See they not that they are tried once or twice every year [with
different kinds ofcalamities, disease, famine, etc.}? Yet, they turn not
in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson [from it].
(Qur 'an 9: 126)
One of our pious predecessors said to someone:
"Verily, I see upon you the signs ofblessings, and my advice to
you is to lock your blessings up and keep them safe by being
thankful. "
And [remember} wlzen your Lord proclaimed: 'lf you give thanks
[by accepting Faith and worshipping none but A llah], I will give you
more [of My Blessings], but ifyou are thankless [i.e. disbelievers],
verily! My Punishment is indeed severe. (Qur 'an 14: 7)
And A llah puts Jorn ard the example of a township [Makkah}, that
dwelt secure and well content; its provision coming to it in
abundance from every place, but it [its people} denied the Favors af
A llah [with ungratejulness}. So Allah made it taste the extreme af
hunger [famine} andfear, because af that [evil, i. e. denying Prophet
Muhammad} which they [its people} used to do) (Qur 'an 1 6: 112)

You are created unique

Dr. James Gordon Gilkee said:


"The dilemma o f wanting your own identity is as ancient as the
beginning of history, and it is common to all human life.
Similar is the problem of not wanting to be your own self,
which is the source of much personal imbalance and
disturbance. "
Someone else sai d :
"You are a unique entity among creation: nothing i s exactly
similar to you, nor are you exactly similar to anything, because
the Creator has brought diversity to the creation. "
You are created unique 1 63

Certainly, your efforts and deeds are diverse [dif.ferent in aims and
purposes}. (Qur 'an 92: 4)
Angelo B attero wrote thirteen books and thousands of articles
related to the topic of child education. He once wrote:
"There is none more miserable than the one who grows up not
being himself, who grows up imitating others in appearance
and thought. "
He sends down water [rain} from the sky, and the valleys flow
according to their measure .. ) (Qur 'an 1 3 : 1 7)
Every person has his own idiosyncrasies, talents, and abilities, so
no one should fuse his personality into that of another.
Undoubtedly, you have been created with restricted means and
abilities that will help you to accomplish very specific and l imited
goals. It has been wisely put: Read yourself and know yourself; you
will then know your mission in life.
Emerson said in his essay on self-reliance:
"The time will come when the knowledge of man will reach
the level where his faith will be that jealousy is ignorance and
imitation is suicide. And one will accept his own self, as he is,
no matter what the circumstances, because that is his lot. Also,
despite the faet that the world is filled with good things, one
will not accomplish anything until he plants and cares for the
land that was given to him. Hidden strengths that are inside of
him are new to the world, and he does not know the extent of
his abilities until he tries. "
And say [O ' Muhammad], 'Do deeds I A llah wi/I see your deeds, and
[so will} His Messenger and the believers. (Qur 'an 9: 1 05)
Contemplate these verses:
Say: 'O ' My slaves, who have transgressed against themselves [by
committing evil deeds and sins}! Despair not of the Mercy of A llah,
verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most
164 You are created unique

Merc(ful. (Qur 'an 39: 53)


And those who ivhen they have committed Fahisha [illegal sexual
intercourse etc.} or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah
and askforgiveness for their sins, - and none can forgive sins but
A llah - And do not persist in what [wrongj the_v have done, while
they know. (Qur 'an 3: 135)
A nd whoever does evil or wrongs himself but ajierwards seeks
Allah 's .forgiveness, he willfind Allah O.fi-Forgiving, Most Merc(ful.
(Qur 'an 4: 1 1 0)
And when My slaves ask you [O ' Muhammad} concerning Me, then
[answer them}, I am indeed near [to them by My Knowledge]. I
respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls an Me
[without any medialor or intercessor]. So let them obey Me and
believe in Me, so that they may be led aright) (Qur 'an 2: 186)
Is not He [better than your gods} Who responds to the distressed
one, when he calls Him, and Who removes the evil, and makes you
inheritors of the earth, generations after generations. Is there any
ilah [god} with A llah ? Little is that you remember! (Qur 'an 2 7: 62)
Those [i.e. believers} unto whom the people [hypocritesj said,
' Veri(v, the people [pagans} have gathered against you [a great
army}, therefore, fear them. ' But it [only} increased them in Faith,
and they said: 'Allah [Alone} is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best
Disposer ofaffairs [for us]. ' So they returned with Grace and Bounty
from A llah. No harm touched them; and they followed the good
Pleasure of Allah. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.
(Qur 'an 3: 1 73-1 74)
'A nd my 0;ffair, I !<?ave it to Allah. Verily, Allah is the A ll-Seer of
[His} slaves '. So Al !ah saved him .fom the evils that they plotted
[against him]. " (Qur 'an 40: 44-45)
Much thai in appearance is harn?fiil is in faet a blessing 165

Much that in appearance is


hannful is in faet a blessing

William James said:


"Our handicaps help us to an extent that we never expected. If
Dostoyevski and Tolstoy had not lived painful lives, they
would not have been capable of writing their ageless j ournals.
So being an orphan, blind, poor, or away from home and
comfort are all conditions that may lead you t o
accomplishment and distinction, t o advancement and
contribution. "
A poet said:
"Allah can bestow His blessings through trials that are small or
large,
And He puts some to trial by giving them of His blessings. "
Even children and wealth can be the cause o f misery:
So let not their wealth or their children amaze you [O '
Muhammad}; in reality A llah :S Plan is to punish them with these
things in the life of this world. . ) (Qur 'an 9 : 55)
Upon becoming crippled, Ibn Atheer was afforded the
opportunity to complete his two famous books. Jam 'ey al-U..ool and
An-Nihayah. As-Sarakhsi wrote his acclaimed book, A l-Maboot, all
fifteen volumes of it, while being imprisoned at the bottom o f a well.
Ibn al-Qayyim wrote Zaad al-Ma 'ad while joumeying on a
riding animal; Al-Ququbi wrote a commentary on Saheeh Muslim
while traveling on a boat; Most of Ibn Taymiyah's Fataawa was
written while he was in j ail.
The scholars of hadith gathered hundreds and thousands of
ahaadeeth (hadiths): these were people that were poor, people that
were strangers to the word 'home.' A righteous person infonned me
that he was imprisoned for a while, and during the period of his
166 Much that i11 appearance is harnful is in faet a blessing

incarceration, he memorized the entire Qur'an and studied forty large


volumes on Islamic jurisprudence.
Abu al-'Ulaa dictated his books to others because he was blind.
Ta}:ia I:Iussain lost his sight, and forthwith he began writing his
renowned journals and books. Many bright people, upon being
removed from their positions or jobs, contributed to the world in
knowledge and thought much more than they ever previously did in
their lives.
Francis Bacon said that,
"A little philosophy makes one lean towards disbelief, and to
del ve into philosophy brings the mind doser to religion . "
And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none will
understand them except those who have knowledge [ofA llah and His
Signs, etc]. (Qur 'an 29: 43)
It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear
A llah) (Qur 'an 35: 28)
And those who have been bestowed with knowledge and faith will
say: 'Jndeed you have stayed according to the Decree ofA llah, until
the Day of Resurrecrion . . . (Qur 'an 30: 56)
Say [to them 0 ' Muhammad}: 'I exhort you on one [thing} only:
that you stand up for Allah s sake in pairs and singly, - and reflect
[within yourselves the /fe his tory ofthe Prophet], he is only a warner
to you in face of a severe forment. ' (Qur 'an 34: 46)
Dr. A. A. Brill said:
"The true believer will never be afflicted by mental sickness. "
Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah and in His
Messenger (Muham mad)} and work deeds ofrighteousness, the Most
Beneficent [A llah} will bestow love for them [in the hearts of the
believers} . (Qur 'an 1 9: 96)
Whoever works righteousness, whether male o.ffemale, while he [or
she} is a true believer [oflslamic Monotheism} veri(v, ro him We will
Faith is the greatest remed_v.' 167

give a good !(fe [in this world with respect, contentment and lawful
provision}, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to
the best of what they used to do [i.e. Paradise in the Hereafterj)
(Qur 'an 1 6: 9 7)
And verily, A llah is the Guide of those who b elieve, to the straight
path) (Qur 'an 22: 54)

Faith is the greatest remedy!

One of the foremost experts in psychology of our time, Dr. Carl


Jung, mentioned on page 264 of his hook The Modern Man In Search
Of Spirit:
"Over the last thirty years, people from all over the world have
come to me seeking advice. I treated hundreds of patients and
most of them were middle-aged, or more than thirty-five years
old. The problem with every one of them returned to one issue
- seeking refuge in religion, and by doing so, being able to
have a perspective or outlook on life. I can reasonably say that
every one of them became sick because they missed out on that
which religion has to offer to the believer. And the one who
does not develop a true faith cannot be healed. "
But whosoever turns away from My Reminder [i. e. neither believes
in this Qur 'an nor acts on its orders, etc.} verily, for him is a life of
hardship. . ) (Qur 'an 20: 124)
We shall cast terror into the hearts ofthose wlw disbelieve, because
they joined others in worship with Allah . . ) (Qur 'an 3: 151)
Darkness, one above another, i.fa man stretches out his hand, he can
hardly see it! And hefor whom A llah has not appointed light, for him
there is no light) (Qur 'an 24: 40)
1 68 Do not !ose hope

Do not lose hojJe

Allah answers the prayer of the disbeliever who is in distress; so


how much more can the Muslim expect who doesn't associate
partners with H im? Mahatma Gandhi, perhaps second in popularity
in India only to the B uddha, was on the verge of slipping were it not
for his dependence on the strength of prayer. And how do I know
this? B ecause, he hin1self said, "If I didn't pray, I would have gone
mad a long time ago. This was the effect of prayer, and Gandhi was
,

not even a Muslim. Unquestionably, his falsehood was great, but


what kept him going was that he was on a path.
And when they embark on a ship, they invoke A llah, making their
Faith pure for Him only, but when He brings them safely to land,
behold, they give a share of their worship to others)
(Qur 'an 29: 65)
Is not He [better than your gods] Who responds to the distressed
one, when he calls Him. . ) (Qur 'an 2 7: 62)
4,And they think that they are encircled therein, they invoke Allah,
m aking their Faith pure for Him Alone, saying: 'Jf You [Allah]
de/iver us from this, we shall truly be of the grateful. '
(Qur 'an I 0: 22)
Despite a thorough search through the b iographies of Muslim
scholars, Muslim historians, and Muslim writers as a group, I have
failed to find a single one of them who fell prey to anxiety, con fusion,
and mental illnesses. The reason is that they lived in peace and
serenity, and that they lived uncomplicated lives that were free from
all forms of affectation.
But those who beliei e and do righteous good deeds, and believe in
that which is sent down to Muhammad, for it is the truth from their
Lord, He will expiate from them their sins, and will make good their
state. (Qur 'an 4 7: 2)
Don 't he sad - Life is shorter than you think 169

Contemplate the foliowing statement of lbn Hazim:


"There is only one day separating kings and me. As for
yesterday, their taste of it has vanished . and both they and I
equally fear what tomorrow will bring . Thus there is only
today. And what will today bring?"
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"O' Allah, I ask you for goodness today: in its blessings,
success, light, and guidance. "
O ' you who believe! Take your precautions . . ) (Qur 'an 4: 71)
And let him be care.ful and let no man know o.f you.
(Qur 'an 1 8: 1 9)
And they said nothing but: 'Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our
transgressions [in keeping our duties to Youj, establish ourfeetfirmly,
and give us victory over the disbelieving folk. ' (Qur 'an 3 : 1 4 7)

Don 't be sad - Life is shorter than you think

Dale Carnegie related a story of a man \Vho had an ulcer that


became aggravated to a dangerous level. Doctors informed him that
he had very little time left to live. They insinuated that it would be
wise for him to make funeral arrangements. Suddenly, Hani - the
patient - made a spontaneous decision: He thought to himself that if
he had such little time left to live, why not enjoy it to the utmost? H e
thought, "How often have I wished to travel around the world before
I die. This is certainly the chance to realize my dreams. " H e bought
his ticket and when the doctors became aware of his plans, they were
shocked. They said to him, "We most strongly remonstrate with you
and wam you: If you go forward on this joumey you will be buried at
the bottom of the ocean." Their arguments were in vain and he only
answered, "No, nothing of the sort will happen. I have promised my
relatives that I will come back to be buried in the family plot. "
1 70 A s !ong as you have /{fe 's basic necessities - Don 't be sad

H e thus began his trip of mirth and joy. H e wrote to his wife
saying, "I eat the most delectable of dishes on the cruise ship. I read
poetry, and I eat tasty fatty foods that I have hitherto refrained from. I
have enj oyed life during this period more than I have in my entire
previous 1 ife."
Dale Carnegie claimed that the man became cured of his
sickness and that the energizing path he took is one that is successful
in defeating disease and pain.
The moral: happiness, cheerfulness, and calmness are often
more efficacious than doctors' pills.

As long as you have life 's basic


necessities - Don 't be sad

nd it is not your wealth, nor your children that bring you nearer to
Us [i. e. pleases A llah}, but only he [will please Us} who believes [in
the Jslam ic Monotheism} and does righteous deeds; as for such, there
will be twofold reward for what they did, and they will reside in the
high dwellings [Paradise} in peace and security. (Qur 'an 34: 3 7)
Dale Carnegie said:
"Statistics have proven that stress and anxiety are the number
one killers in A merica. As a result of the last world war, one
third of a million of our soldiers were killed. In the same
period, heart disease was the cause of two million deaths. And
from this latter group, stress, anxiety, and nervous tension
were the source of sickness for one million people."
Yes, heart disease is one of the main reasons that prompted Dr.
Alexis Carly le to say :
"Working peopl e who do not know how to deal with stress die
prematurely. '
Contentment repels sadness 1 71

Though the reasoning and logic that prompted Carly le to say this
are sound, we must still remember:
And no person can ever die except by Allah 's Leave and at an
appointed term) (Qur 'an 3 : 1 45)
B lack Americans and the Chinese rarely fall prey to diseases of
the heart. They are people who live life with tranqui lity and
calmness. On the other hand, you will find that the number of doctors
who die of heart attacks is twenty times more than the number of
farmers who die of the same cause. Doctors live a tough and stress
filled life, for which they pay a heavy price.

Contentment repels sadness

The Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:


"We do not say other than that which pleases our Lord . "
Upon you is a sacred duty to surrender yourself to what is
preordained for you. If you fulfill this duty, you will be successful in
the long run.
Your only escape is to believe in preordainment, since w hatever
has been decreed must inevitably take place. No subterfuge or artifice
can protect you from it.
Emerson said:
"From where has the idea come to us which says that a
luxurious stable life, free from obstacles and hardships, creates
prosperous and great men? The case is quite the opposite.
Those who have made a habit of living the easy life will
continue to further develop lazy habits as they go on i n life.
H istory witnesses that greatness has surrendered its reins to
men of different backgrounds. From these backgrounds are
environments that have both good and bad, or environments
where good and bad cannot be distinguished. And from such
1 72 Contentmenr repels sadness

environments have sprouted up men who have carried great


responsibi lities on their shoulders without ever negligently
casting them off. "
Who were those that carried the flag of Di vine guidance in the
early days of Islam? They were the freed slaves, the poor, and the
destitute. And most of the people who stood defiantly against them
were the nobles, the chiefs, and the rich.
And when Our Clear Verses are recited to them, those who
disbelieve [the rich and strong among the pagans of Quraysh who
lived a life of luxw"> j say to those who believe [the weak, poor
Companions ofProphet Muhammad}: 'Which ofthe two groups [i. e.
believers and disbelievers} is hest in position and station [place in
council for consultation}. '}> (Qur 'an 19: 73)
And they say: ' We are more in wealth and in children, and we are
not going to be punished. (Qur 'an 34: 35)
Thus We have tried same ofthem with others, that they might say: 'is
it these [poor believers} that A llah has favored from amongst us? '
Does not A llah knoH/ hest those who are grateful? (Qur 'an 6: 53)
And those who dishelieve {')trang and wealthy} say of those who
believe [weak and poor}: 'Had it [lslamic Monotheism to which
Muhammad is inviting mankind} been a good thing, they [weak and
poor} would not have preceded us thereto! '! (Qur 'an 46: 11)
Those who were arrogant said: 'Verily, we disbelieve in that which
you believe in. (Qur 'an 7: 76)
And they say: ' Why is not this Qur 'an sent down to same great man
of the two towns [Makkah and Ta 'O? ' Is it they who would portion
out the Mercy of your Lord? (Qur 'an 43: 31-32)
I often recall the verses of Antara, in which he establishes that
his worth is in his character and deeds, and not in his lineage or
connections. He said:
fl.rou /ose a limb, you stil/ have others . . . I 73

"Despite being a slave, I am a noble chief;


And despite being black in color, I have a white character. "

If you lose a limb, you still have


others to compensate for it

Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:


"If Allah removes the light from my eyes,
My tongue and ears still have in them light.
My heart is intelligent and my mind is not crooked,
And my tongue is sharp like a warrior's sword . "
When harm befalls you, perhaps there is a benefit that comes
with it, a benefit that you cannot perceive.
EfAnd it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you" .
(Qur 'an 2 : 2 1 6)
Bashhar ibn Burd said:
"My enemies disparage me, and the d e fect is in them,
It is not a disgrace to be called defective.
If a person can see gallantry and truth ,
Blindness in the eyes will not be a h indrance.
In bl indness I see rewards, savings, and protection,
And for these three, I am most needy. "
Observe the difference between what Ibn ' Abbaas or B ashhar
said and what Saalel). ibn 'Abdul Quddoos said when he became
blind:
"Farewell to the world; the old man \Vho is blind
Has no share whatsoever of this life.
He dies and people consider him to be of the living,
False hopes have betrayed him from the beginning. "
All Divine decrees will come to pass, both upon the one who
accepts them and upon the one who rejects them. The difference is
1 74 The days ro rate in hringing good and bad

that the former will find reward and happiness while the latter will
find only sin and m isery.
'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Aziz wrote to Maymoon ibn Mehran:
"You have written to console me for losing 'Abdul-Malik. For
this matter I had been in waiting, and when it finally came to
pass, I had no misgivings about it. "

The days rotate in bringi,ng good and bad

It has been related that Imam Al).mad visited Baqi ibn Mukhalid
while he was sick and said to him:
"O' Bagi, rejoice in Allah's reward. The days of health are
devoid of sickness and the days of sickness are devoid of
health. "
This means that during days of health one never contemplates
sickness, for plans and ambitions then increase, as do hopes and
desires. During days o f severe sickness, however, one forgets matters
that pertain to times o f health; weak despair encamps itselfwithin the
sick soul , and thus hopelessness prevails. Allah, the Exalted, said:
t4 nd ff We give man a taste ofMercyfrom Us, and then withdraw it
from him, verily! He is despairing, ungrateful. But if We let him taste
good [favor} a.fter evil [poverty and harm} has touched him, he is
sure to say: 'Jlls have departed from me. ' Surely, he is exultant, and
boastful [ungratefitl to A llah]. Except those who shott- patience and
do righteous good deeds, those: theirs will beforgiveness and a great
reward [Paradise} . (Qur 'an li: 9-11)
Commenting on this v erse, lbn Katheer wrote:
"Allah is describing man and the base characteristic that he is
the possessor o f (with the exception of those believers upon
whom Allah has bestowed His mercy). In general, if man is
afflicted with hardship after ease, he becomes hopeless of ever
Trave/ throughout Allah . ll ide earth
' 1 75

seeing good in the future; he shows disdain for the past - as if


he never experienced good days - and despair for the future
as if he never expected succor and rel ief. "
Analogous is his attitude when he experiences ease after hardship:
'fils have departed from me. ' (Qur 'an 11: 1 0)
Or in other words:
"Nothing evil or bad will befall me after this . "
'Surely, he is exultant, and boasful. (Qur 'an 1 1 : l 0)
'Except those who show patience and do righteous good deeds,
those: theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward [Paradise}.
(Qur 'an 1 1 : 11)

Travel throughout Allah 's wide earth

It has rightly been said that traveling drives away womes.


Ramhumuzi enumerated in his book, The Noble Scholar ofHadeeth,
the various benefits of traveling for the purpose of seeking
knowledge. He was refuting those who think that no tangible benefit
can be derived by traveling through the lands. He said:
"There is much profit to be derived from seeing new lands and
new houses, in seeing beautiful gardens and fields, in seeing
different faces and coming across different languages and
colors, and in witnessing the wonders of different countries.
The peace that one finds under the shades of large trees is
unparalleled. Eating in the mosques, drinking from streams,
and sleeping wherever one finds a place when night comes -
these all instill affability and humbleness in a person. The
traveler befriends all those whom he loves for Allah 's sake and
he has no reason to flatter or to be artificial. Add to these
benefits all of the happiness that the traYeler's heart feels when
he reaches his destination, and the thril l he experiences after
1 76 Contemplate these Prophe tic sayings

having overcome all of the obstacles that were on his way. If


those who are averse to leaving their homelands knew all of
this, they would leam that all of the individual pleasures of the
w orld are combined in the noble pursuit of traveling. There is
n othing more enjoyable to a traveler than the beautiful sights
and the wonderful activities that are part of traveling through
A llah 's wide earth. And the non-traveler is deprived of all of
thi s . "

Contemplate these Prophetic sayings

"If A llah loves a people, He tests them. Whoever is


p leased, for him there is pleasure, and whoever is angry,
upon him there is wrath. "
"The most harshly tested people are the Propbets,
fol lowed in succession by those who are best after them.
A man is tested according to his religion. If his religion
is strong with him, his test will be more intense. If his
religion is weak with him, he will be tested according to
the level of his religion. (Allah's) slave will continually
b e tested until he is left to walk on the earth without a
mistake (to have to account for)."
"Wonderful is the situation of the believer. All of his
affairs are good (for him) ! And this is only for the
believer. If good befalls him, he is thankful, and that is
good for him. If harm afflicts him, he is patient, and that
is good for him . "
"And know that if the entire Nation were to gather upon
benefiting you with something, they would only benefit
you with something that Allah has (already) written for
you. And if they were to gather upon harming you with
111 the last moments qf l(fe . .
. 1 77

something, they would only harm you with something


that Allah has (already) written for you. "
"The righteous ones are tested: first, the hest of them,
then the next, and so on. "
"The believer is like a tiny branch; the wind blows it to
the right and to the left. "

In the last moments of life

Abu ar-Rey}:iaan al-Bayrooni was a prolific thinker and writer


whose pen rarely left his hand. He lived to the ripe age of seventy
eight and throughout his life he never unnecessarily took a break
from reading, writing, or teaching.
Abul I:Iaan 'Ali ibn 'Eesa said:
"I visited Abu ar-Rey}:iaan when he was on his deathbed. Upon
entering, I immediately recognized that he was on the verge of
leaving this life. While in that state, he said to me that there
was an issue in (Islamic) inheritance law that we had discussed
the last time we met and that I had said something then that he
now realized was a mistake. I felt compassion for him, and
asked him if it was proper for him to discuss something l ike
that, with him being so ill. He answered, ' I know that I am
leaving this world, but don 't you think it is better for me to
understand the issue in question than to be ignorant of it? ' I
then repeated to him the issue, and he started to explain it to
me. After we finished our conversation, I left, and upon
exiting, I heard a scream and I knew that he had <lied. It is only
lofty souls like his that remain strong right until the end . "
When 'Umar was bleeding to death after being stabbed, he asked
his companions whether he had completed the prayer or not.
Ibraheem ibn al-Jarrai) said:
1 78 Do not let calamiry shake you

"Abu Yusuf became sick and was vacillating between


wakefulness and unconsciousness. When he regained
consciousness, he asked me about a religious issue. When
he saw the wonder with which I received his question, he said
to me, 'No matter, we will study this issue in the hope that the
know]edge of it perpetuates until it becomes the cause of
saving someone. "'
This is how our pious predecessors were. Every time they
revived, while yet being on their deathbeds, they would talk about
Islamic knowledge, either as a teacher or as a student. How precious
was knowledge to their hearts! In the last moments oftheir lives, they
remernbered neither family nor wealth; they only remembered the
knowledge that was the toil of their lives. May Allah have mercy
upon them.

Do not let calam ity shake you

A}:lmad ibn Yusuf wrote that man positively knows that ease
comes after difficulty j ust as the light of day comes after the dark of
night. In spite of this knowledge, the weaker part of his nature takes
over when calarnity strikes. A person who goes through trials should
take steps to remedy his situation or else hopelessness takes control
of him. Contemp lating the patience of those who were tested in the
past is a means of strengthening one 's determination.
He mentioned later that hardship before comfort is analogous to
hunger before food: food comes at a time when it has its greatest
e ffect on the taste buds.
Plato said:
"Hardship is as beneficial to the soul as it is unwelcome in
one's life. Comfort is as harmful to the soul as it is welcome in
li fe. "
Do not grieve - This lt'orld is not 11orth your grief 1 79

When someone begins to understand his purpose in life, he will


know that he is being tested either to gain reward from Allah or to
gain atonement for his sins.
After reading a book written by At-Tanooki, I derived three
conclusions:
I . Relief comes after hardship. This is a consistent pattem in the life
of man, as consistent as the coming of moming after darkness.
2. Hardship is more beneficial to the soul of man than are comfort
and ease.
3 . The One who brings good and drives away evil is Allah. Know
that whatever happens to you was decreed for you, and whatever you
have missed out was never meant for you.

Do oot grieve This world


-

is oot worth your grief

The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon h im) said:


"Tf this world were worth the wing of a mosquito to
Allah, He would not have given the disbeliever (even) a
drink of water. "
This world is not even worth the wing of a mosquito ! If this is
the worth of this world, why do we grieve o ver it?

Don 't be sad: Remember that


you believe in Allah

!Nay, but Allah has conferred afavor upon you, that He has guided
you to the Faith. . ) (Qur 'an 49: 1 7)
One particular blessing overlooked by most people is the
vantage point afforded to the believer when he is observing the
disbeliever. The believer remembers Allah 's favor of guiding him to
I 80 Pause to reflt!ct

Islam. H e is thankful that Allah has not decreed for him to be like the
disbeliever, who rebels, denies His signs, disbelieves in His perfect
attributes, in H is messengers, and in the Hereafter.
Furthermore, the believer performs all obligatory acts of
worship. Perhaps his execution of those acts is not perfect, yet simply
performing them is in itself a great blessing. It is a blessing for which
few are grateful.
fis then he who is a believer like him who is Faasiq [disbeliever and
disobedient to A llah} ? Not equal are they) (Qur 'an 32: 18)
Some commentators of the Qur'an have said that among the
p leasures of Paradise for the believers is to be able to look upon the
people of the Fire and then thank their Lord for what H e has given
them.

Pause to reflect

There is none worthy of worship except Allah. This means that


none truly deserves, or has the right to be worshipped, except Allah,
the Almighty, All-High, since He alone possesses those perfect
qualities that are associated with omnipotence, divinity, and
godhood.
The spirit and secret of this monotheistic phrase is to single out
Allah for love, fear. hope, veneration, and glorification. It also
includes our depending upon Allah and our repenting to Him. So our
love is pure for none except Him, and everyone other than Him is
only loved as a by-produet of our love for Him, or as a means of
increasing our love for Him.
Therefore we must fear Allah Alone, and we must depend upon
H im Alone; in Him A lone do we place our hopes; and of Him Alone
are we in awe. We take an oath by His name only; we repent to Him
Alone; and all obedience is for Him. In times of hardship, we may
Despair not - Handicaps do not prevent succes.\ 181

invoke none but Him and we may seek refuge in none save in Him.
Also, we prostrate to Him only, and when we slaughter an animal, we
do it, mentioning His name only.
All ofthe above can be summarized in one phrase: None has the
right to be worshipped except Allah. This phrase is comprehensive of
all forms of worship.

Despair not - Handicaps do not prevent success

An interview was published in the Arabic daily ' Ukkaa?, with a


blind man named Mal).mood ibn Mulrnmmad a l-Madani. H e studied
books of Arabic literature through the eyes of o thers. He would listen
as others read to him books of history and commentaries on the
classics. He used to have one ofhis friends read to him until 3 o 'clock
in the moming. Today, he is considered to be a reference book in
literature and history.
Mutafa Ameen, a columnist for Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, wrote:
"Be patient with oppressors and wrongdoers for only five
minutes. After a short time, the whip will fall , the shackles will
break, the prisoner will be released, and the clouds will
dissipate; upon you, then, is only to be patient and to wait. "
An Arab poet wrote:
"How many calamities cause one to lose patience?
But from them, the exit is with Allah. ''
I once met with the Mufti of Albania in R iyadh. He told me of
how the mling communists imprisoned him with hard labor for
twenty years. While serving his sentence in prison, he was constantly
subjected to torture, darkness, and hunger. He would secretly perform
the five daily prayers in a comer of the washroom, for fear of being
caught. Through all of this he was patient and anticipated his reward
with Allah, until finally relief came.
182 {f'you embrace h'lam, there is no reason . . .

So they returned with Grace and Bounty from A llah.


(Qur 'an 3: 1 74)
Consider Nelson Mandela, the one-time President of South
Africa, who for twenty-seven years endured imprisonment. He
sought freedom for his people and he struggled to break off the
shackles of tyranny and oppression. He was steadfast and firm, and
he almost appeared to be seeking out death. As a result, he reached
his goal and achieved his worldly glory. Allah, the Exalted, said:
To them We shall pay in ful! [the wages ofl their deeds therein.
(Qur 'an 11: 15)
{fyou are suffering [hardships} then surely, they [too} are suffering
[hardships} as you are suffering, but you have a hopefrom A llah [for
the reward, i. e. Paradise} that for which they hope not. "
(Qur 'an 4 : 1 04)
If a wound [and killing} has touched you, be sure a similar wound
[and killing} has tou ched the others. (Qur 'an 3: 1 4 0)

If you embrace Islam, there is


no reason for you to be sad

Miserable are those souls that are ignorant of Islam or that know
Islam but have not been guided to it. Today, Muslims need a slogan
or advertisement to be broadcast worldwide, for Islam is a great
message that must be conveyed to the masses. The words of this
slogan need to be clear, concise, and inviting because the happiness
of humanity as a whole lies in this true Religion.
And whoever seek>; a religion other than Islam, it will never be
accepted of him" ) (Qur 'an 3: 85)
A famous caller to Islam settled in Munich, Germany some years
ago. Upon reaching the entrance of this city, he noticed a large
placard. Upon it was \vritten, "You don't know Yokohama Tires." He
flyou emhrace Islam, there is no reason. . . 183

later put up a sign beside it and it was just as large. He wrote on it,
"You don 't know Islam. Tf you wish to know about it, call us at thi s
number. " There was an inundation of calls from native Germans. In
one year alone, thousands of people accepted Islam at this man 's
hands. He also established a mosque, an Islamic center, and a school.
Most human beings are confused and are in dire need of this
great religion. They need Islam so that a peaceful and serene life can
take the place of the chaotic one that they are presently leading.
Wherewith Allah guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to
ways ofpeace, and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto
light and guides them to a Straight Way [Jslamic Monotheism]. P
(Qur 'an 5: 1 6)
A worshipper who was found living in a remote area, and who
never had prior contact with other men, said:
"I never thought that anyone in the world worshipped other
than Allah . "
But few of My slaves are grateful. P (Qur 'an 34: I 3)
And if you obey most of those on earth, thev will mislead you far
away from Allah 's path) (Qur 'an 6: 1 1 6)
And most ofmankind will not believe even {fyou desire it eagerly. P
(Qur 'an 12: 1 03)
One scholar informed me that during the time when Sudan was a
colony under the British Empire, a desert nomad came to the capital
city, Khartoum. When he saw a British policeman walking in the
center of the city, he asked a passerby, "Who i s that?" He was told
that the man was a foreign policeman and that he was a disbeliever.
The nomad asked, "A disbeliever in what? " "A disbeliever in
Allah," was the rep ly. Living in the desert for so long, this man 's
inbom nature - unspoiled by evil ideas - had remained intact, and
so, when he heard something so absurd, it made him astonished and
sick. He said, "And does anyone disbelieve in Allah ! " H e then
184 Jfyou embrace Islam, there is no reason . . .

grabbed hold o f his stomach and vomited from sheer disgust at what
he heard.
What is the matter with them, that they believe not?
(Qur 'an 84: 20)
Then, by the Lord of the heaven and the earth, it is the truth [i. e.
what has been promised to you}, just as it is the truth that you can
speak) (Qur 'an 51: 23)
One should think well ofhis Lord and should seek His favor and
mercy. In an authenti c hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said that our Lord
laughs. After hearing this, a desert Bedouin said, "We are not bereft
of a Lord who laughs well."
And He it is Who sends down the rain after they have despaired. . )
(Qur 'an 42: 28)
Surely A llah :S Mercy is [ever} near unto the good-doers)
(Qur 'an 7: 56)
Yes! Certainly, the Help o.f Allah is near.' (Qur 'an 2: 214)
By reading the b iographies of successful people, one finds that
they have certain things in common, whether it is in their
background, their qualities, or the circumstances that surrounded
their success. Here are some of the conclusions I arrived at after
having read some of their biographies.
1 . A person's value is based on the good he does. This is a saying of
'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), and it means that a person's
knowledge, character. worship, and generosity are the yardsticks by
which we measure his worth.
And verily, a believing slave is better than a [free} Mushrik
[idolater, etc.}, even though he pleases you) (Qur 'an 2: 221)
2 . One 's status for this li fe and for the Hereafter depends on his
determination, striving, and sacrifice.
And if they had intended to march out, certain(v, they would have
made some preparation for it. . . (Qur 'an 9: 46)
Things that bring ab out happiness 185

And strive hard in A llah s Cause as you ought to strive [with


sincerity and with all your efforts that His Name should be
superior}. (Qur 'an 22: 78)
3 . Every person - by the will of Allah - is the maker of his own
history. He writes his life's story with his good and bad deeds.
We record that which they send befare [them}, and their traces
[their footsteps and walking on the earth ttith their legs to the
mosques for thefive compulsory congregationa l prayers, Jihad (holy
fighting in A llah S' Cause) and all other good and evil they did, and
that which they leave behindj" . (Qur 'an 3 6: 1 2)
4. Life is short and passes quickly. Do not make it shorter by sinning,
by worrying, or by quarrelling.
The Day they see it, [it will be} as if they had not tarried [in this
world} except an afternoon or a morning) (Qur 'an 79: 46)

Things that bring about happiness

1 . Go od deeds:
Whoever works righteousness, whether male o rfemale, while he [or
she} is a true believer [oflslamic Monotheism} verily, to him We will
give a good life [in this world with respect, contentment and lawful
provision}") (Qur 'an 1 6: 9 7)
2 . A pious wife:
'Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will
be the comfort of our eyes. . . ' (Qur 'an 25: 74)
3 . A spacious house: The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him)
said:
"O' Allah, make my house spacious for me. "
4. Sustenance that i s derived and eamed through honest means: The
Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said:
186 The ingredients of happiness

"Verily, Allah i s Tayyib (good and pure), and He does


not accept other than what is good and pure."
5. Good manners and a spirit of fellowship with people:
'A nd He has made me blessed wheresoever I be .. .

(Qur 'an 1 9: 31)


6. B eing debt-free and not being a profligate spender:
A nd those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor
niggardly. . ) (Qur 'an 25: 67)
And let not your hand be tied [like a miser} to your neck, nor stretch
it forth to its utmost reach [like a spendthrift]. . ) (Qur 'an 1 7: 29)

The ingredients of happiness

1 . A thankful heart and a tongue that is moist with the remembrance


of Allah.
An Arab poet said:
"Thankfulness. remembrance, and patience,
In them are bl essings and rewards. "
2 . Another ingredient o f happiness i s the keeping o f secrets,
especially one 's own secrets. Among the Arabs there is a famous
story of a Bedouin who was entrusted with a secret for a fee of twenty
dinars. At first he remained true to the deal and then suddenly, in a fit
of impatience, he went and returned the money - he wanted to
unburden himself from the load of the secret. This is basically
because secrecy requires steadfastness, patience, and willpower.
'O ' my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers . . .

(Qur 'an 12: 5)


A weakness of man - which is just one ofhis many weak traits
- is that he constantly feels the urge to reveal the details of his
personal affairs to others. This sickness is an old one in the annals of
history. The soul loves to spread secrets and disseminate stories. The
You will not die befare your appo in Tl!d time 187

connection between this topic and that of this book is that whoever
spreads his secrets will inevitably feel regret, sadness, and misery.
And let him be carefitl and let 110 man know ofyou. (Qur 'an 18: 1 9)

You will not die before your appointed time

When their term is reached, neither can they delay it nor can they
advance it an hour [or a moment}. (Qur 'an 7: 34)
This verse contains within it a consolatio n for cowards, those
that die many deaths before their actual death. This verse tells us that
for every person there is an appointed time to die: it cannot be
brought forward, nor can it be held back, even if all of the creation
were to join together in the attempt.
And the stupor of death will come in truth . . ) (Our 'an 50: 1 9)
And know that hoping in other than Allah is misery:
Then he had no group or party to help him against Allah, nor was he
one of those who could save themselves) (Qur 'an 28: 81)
Adh-Dhahabi's Siyer A 'laam an-Nubalaa is a 20-volume work.
It contains the biographies of scholars, kings, ministers, rulers, and
poets. As I was reading some of their biographies, two points came to
mind:
1 . Whoever places his hopes or trust in something or someone other
than Allah, then Allah will abandon him and make that thing or
person the cause of his ruin.
And verily, they [Satans/Devils} hinder them from the Path [of
A llah}, but they think that they are guided aright! (Qur 'an 43: 3 7)
For Fir'aun (Pharoah) it was status; for Qaaroon ( Korah) it was
wealth; for Umayyah it was business; for Wal eed it was his child:
Leave Me Alone [to deal} with whom I created Alone [without any
means, i.e. Al-Waleed ibn al-Mughirah al-Makhzumi} !
(Qur 'an 7 4: 11)
188 o A llah . JV/10 isfidl (l Majesty and Honor ...

For Abu Jahl it was status; for Abu Lahab it was lineage; for Abu
Muslim it was the throne; for Al-Mutanabbi it was farne; and for Al
l:lajjaj it was power and authority.
Whoever seeks honor with Allah and does righteous deeds,
A llah will honor him and bestow upon him ranking even if he has no
wealth, status, or noble lineage.
For B ila] it was the call to prayer; for Sulmaan it was the
Hereafter; for Suhaib it was his sacrifice; and for 'Ataa it was
knowledge (may Allah be pleased with them all):
A nd made the word ofthose who disbelieved the lowermost, while it
was the Word ofA llah that became the uppermost, and A llah is A ll
Mighty, A ll- Wise. (Qur 'an 9: 40)

'O ' Allah, fflho is full of Majesty and Honor. . . '

I n an authentic hadith, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon


him) advised us to repeat this phrase aften:
"O' (Allah) \V'ho is full of Majesty and Honor."
H e (bpuh) also advised us to say:
"O' Ever L iving, O' One Who sustains and protects all
that exists. "
Therefore, for one's own well being, one should invoke Allah
and seek His help with these phrases, and the answer will surely then
follow.
[Rememher} when you sought help ofyour Lord and He answered
you ) (Qur 'an 8 : 9)
In the life of a Muslim, there are three truly joyful days:
1 . The day that he abjures sinning and performs his obligatory
prayers in congregation.
Answer Allah [by obeying Him} and [Hi!>} Messenger when he calls
you . . ) (Qur 'an 8: 24)
'O A llah. W/10 is.fit!I <l Majes1y and Honor" . 189

2. The day that he repents from a sin, forsakes it, and retums to his
Lord.
Then, He accepted their repentance, that they m ight repent [unto
Him}. (Qur 'an 9: 118)
3 . The day that he dies to meet his Lord, having perforrned a final
deed that is both good and pure.
"Whosoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet
.
h1m. "
After having studied the life of the Prophet's Companions (may
Allah be pleased with them all), I found in them five characteristics
that distinguish them from others:
1 . They led simple lives that were free from ostentation and
extravagance.
And We shall make easyfor you [O ' Muhammad} the easy way [i. e.
the doing af righteous deeds}. l (Qur 'an 8 7: 8)
2. Their knowledge of religious matters was as blessed as it was
profound. And more importantly, they accompanied that knowledge
with practical application.
It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear
A llah) (Qur 'an 35: 28)
3 . They gave precedence to deeds of the heart over deeds that others
could see. Thus, they had sincerity; they depended upon Allah; they
loved Him; they hoped from Him only; and they feared none save
Him. Furthermore, they assiduously performed voluntary acts of
worship, such as prayer and fasting.
He knew what was in their hearts" . (Qur 'an 48: 1 8)
4. They did not seek the world and its pleasures. They tumed their
backs in disdain on material possessions, and they reaped the fruits of
this noble stance: happiness, peace of mind, and sincerity.
And whoever desires the Herea,fier and strives for it, with the
necessary e.ffort due for it [i. e. do righteous deeds of Allah S':
1 90 'O ' A llah , Who is ful/ of Majesty and Honor. "

ObedienceJ while he is a believer. .. (Qur 'an 1 7: 1 9)


5. Jihad was a priorit) for them over other good deeds until it became
a banner by which they were recognized. And through Jihad, they
annihilated their worries and troubles, because all of the following
are a part of Jihad: remembrance, striving, effort, and activity.
As for those who strive hard in U5 [Our Cause}, We will surely
guide them to Our Paths [i. e. Allah 5 Religion - blamic
Monotheism}. A nd verily, A llah is with the good doers)
(Qur 'an 29: 69)
In the Qur'an, truths and realities that are constant and do not
change are mentioned conceming this life. Here are the ones that are
related to the subject matter of this book.
Whoever works for Allah, He will help him:
Ifyou help [in the cause oj) A llah, He will help you, and make your
foothold firm) (Qur 'an 47: 7)
Whoever asks of Allah, He will answer him:
And your Lord said: 'lnvoke Me, I will respond to your
[invocation}. ' (Qur 'an 40: 60)
When one asks A llah for forgiveness, He will forgive him:
He said: 'My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me '.
Then He forgave him) (Qur 'an 28: 16)
And He it is Who accepts repentance from His slaves. . )
(Qur 'an 42: 25)
Whoever places his trust in Allah, He will be sufficient for him:
And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him)
(Qur 'an 65: 3)
There are three kinds of people whose punishment is certain:
those who are rebellious against Allah, those who break their
pledges, and those who plot evil deeds:
1 Your rebellion [disobedience to Allah] is only against your
ownselves. (Qur 'an J O: 23)
'O ' A lla h Wlio isfull (l Majcst_r and Honor .
, . . 191

Then whosoever breaks his pledge, breaks only to his own harm . . .
(Qur 'an 48: 1 0)
But the evil plot encompasses only him who makes it.
(Qur 'an 35: 43)
Oppressors will not escape from Allah 's punishment:
These are their houses in utter ruin, for they did wrong.
(Qur 'an 2 7: 52)
The fruits of righteousness are harvested both in the short and
long term:
So A llah gave them the reward af this world, and the excellent
reward af the Hereafler. (Qur 'an 3: 1 48)
Whoever obeys Allah, He will love him and provide sustenance
for him:
Verily, A llah is the A ll-Provider. . ) (Qur 'an 5 1 : 58)
Allah will punish the enemies of his obedient slaves:
Verily, We will exact retributian. (Qur 'an 44: 1 6)
Shaykh 'Abdur-ReQ.maan ibn Sa'di wrote a valuable book called
Practical Means to a Happy Life. In it he said,
"By enumerating Allah 's blessings, one will realize that he is
betler off than a great number of peopl e and that he should
truly be thankful for Allah 's favors upon him . "
Even in marters o f religion, one finds that i n spite o f the
negligence we are all guilty of, some of us are better than others in
performing the obligatory congregational p rayers regularly, in
reading the Qur'an, in remembering Allah, and so on. These are all
favors for which we should be thankful. Allah, the Exalted, said:
Allah has pe1.fected His Graces upon you, [both} apparent [i. e.
lslamic Manatheism, and the lawful pleasures of this world,
including health, gaod looks, etc.} and hidden [i. e. One s Faith in
A llah (of lslamic Monatheism) knowledge, wisdom, guidance for
doing righteous deeds, and also the pleasures and delights af the
1 92 Pause to re.flect

Hereafter in Paradise, etc.} ? (Qur 'an 31: 20)


Adh-Dhahabi mentioned that the great scholar of hadith, Ibn
' Abdul Ba' qi, observed the people as they were leaving the central
Mosque of Baghdad. He was looking for someone who in all respects
he wished to change places with in life, yet he reported that he found
no one:
t4nd We have preferred them above many of those whom We have
created with a m arked preference. (Qur 'an 1 7: 70)

Pause to reflect

Asmaa' hint 'Umays related that the Messenger of Allah


(Blessings and Peace be upon him) said to her:
"Shall I not teach you words that you should say when
in distress: 'Allah, Allah, My Lord; I do not associate
any partners with Him. '"
In another hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) informed us that when one
is afflicted with sickness or hardship, he will find relief if he says:
"Allah, My Lord; He has no partner. "
At times, one becomes affiicted with a severe trial. If he turns to
his Lord and surrenders his will to Him without associating any
partners with H im, his hardship will go away.

Steps to take if you are fearful of a jealous person

Recite the last tvvo chapters of the Qur'an, remember Allah, and
supplicate to Him:
'A nd from the evil of the envier when he envies. (Qur 'an 113: 5)
H ide or keep secret your affairs from the jealous person:
'O ' my sons I Do not enter by one gate, but enter by different
gates. . . (Qur 'an 12: 67)
Good rnanners 1 93

Be generous to a person who attempts to harm you, for perhaps


he will then desist:
Repel evil with that which is betler ) (Qur 'an 23: 96)

Good manners

Good manners lead to prosperity, while bad ones lead to misery.


In a hadith, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Through good manners, one reaches the status of the
person who not only fasts, but who also stands late in
the night to pray. "
He (bpuh) also said:
"Shall I not inform you of the most beloved to me and
the one seated closest to me on the Day o fResurrection:
' Those of you who are hest in manners. ' "
Mnd verily, you [O ' Muhammad} are o n an exalted standard of
character ) (Qur 'an 68: 4)
And by the Mercy ofAllah, you dealt with thern gently. And had you
been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from
about you") (Qur 'an 3: 1 5 9)
. . . and speak good to people" ) (Qur 'an 2: 8 3)
'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) described the Prophet
(bpuh) with the following words:
"His character was the Qur'an. "

Sleepless nights

If you toss and tum during the night without being ab le to fall
asleep, do the foliowing:
1 . Remember Allah with Prophetic supplications or supplications
taken from the Qur'an:
1 94 The evil consequences qfsinning

Verily, in the remembrance of A llah do hearts find rest.


(Qur 'an 13: 28)
2 . Avoid sleeping during the day, except when you have no other
choice:
And have made the day for livelihood. (Qur 'an 78: I I)
3 . Read or write unti l sleep comes:
And say: 'My Lord! Increase me in knowledge. ' (Qur 'an 20: 1 1 4)
4 . Work hard during the day:
And [it is He Who} nzakes the day Nushur [i.e. getting up and going
about here and there for daily work, etc., after ane s sleep at night or
like resurrection afte r one s deathj) (Qur 'an 25: 47)
5 . Consume stimulants such as coffee and tea in moderation.

The evil consequences of sinning

L i sted below are some of the evil consequences of sinning.


1 . A barrier develops between Allah and the evildoer:
Nay! Surely, they [evildoers] will be veiled from seeing their Lord
that day) (Qur 'an 83: 1 5)
2 . When a person perpetrates evil deeds on a continual basis, he will
become despondent, losing hope of being saved.
3 . The evildoer o ften falls into a state of depression and anxiety:
The building which they built will never cease to be a cause of
hypocrisy and doubt in their hearts" ) (Qur 'an 9: 1 1 0)
4 . Fear permeates the heart of the evildoer:
! We shall cast terror in to the hearts of those who disbelieve, because
they joined others in worship with A llah. . . (Qur 'an 3: 1 5 1)
5 . L ife becomes wretched for the evildoer:
(Qur 'an 20: 1 24)
- - verily, for him is a life of hardship. . )
6 . The heart of the evildoer blackens and becomes hard:
. . . and made their hearts grow hard) (Qur 'an 5: 13)
Strivef()r your sustenance , but don 1 be covetous 1 95

7. An evildoer's face loses its light and becomes morbid:


As for those whose faces will become black [to them will be said}:
'Did you reject Faith". ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 06)
8 . People feel contempt for an evildoer.
9. The wor1dly circumstances of an evildoer become straitened:
Mnd if only they had acted according to the Torah, the lnjeel
[Gospel}, and what has [now} been sent down to them from their
Lord [the Qur 'an}, they would surely have gotten provision from
above them and from underneath their feet. (Qur 'an 5: 66)
1 0. The wrath of A llah, a decrease in faith, and calamity - all of
these are the lot of the evildoer:
So they have drawn on themselves wrath upon wrath.
(Qur 'an 2: 90)
But on their hearts is the Raan [covering of sins and evil deeds}
which they used to earn. (Qur 'an 83: 1 4)
Mnd they say, 'Our hearts are wrapped [i. e. do not hear or
understand A llah s Word]. ' (Qur 'an 2: 88)

Strive for your sustenance, but don 't be covetous

The Lord of the worlds provides for the worm i n the ground:
qThere is not a moving [living} creature an earth, nor a hird thatflies
with its two wings, but are communities like you. (Qur 'an 6: 38)
Allah provides for the birds in the sky and for the fish in the sea:
And it is He Who feeds but is not fed. (Qur 'an 6: 1 4)
You are worthier than a worm, bird, or fish, so don' t worry about
sustenance.
I have known people who were stricken by poverty simply
because of their distance from Allah. Some of them were rich and
healthy, but instead of being thankful they tumed away from
obedience to Allah, they abandoned prayer, and they perpetrated
1 96 The seere! of'Kuidance

major sins. Allah took away from them their health and their wealth,
replacing these w ith poverty, sickness, and anxiety. They were then
afflicted with hardship upon hardship, calamity upon calamity.
!But ivhosoever turns away_jl-am My Reminder, veriv. far him is a !(fe
of hardship" . P (Qur 'an 20: 124)
That is so because A llah will never change a grace which He has
bestowed on a people until they change what is in their mvnselves.
(Qur 'an 8: 53)
!And whatever af m i.fortune befalls yau, it is because af what your
hands have earned. A nd He pardons much) (Qur 'an 42: 30)
Uf the_v [Non-Muslims} had believed in A llah, and went an the Right
Way [i. e. Islam}. We should surely have bestowed on them water
[rain} in abundance. ! (Qur 'an 72: 1 6)

The secret of guidance

Contentment and happiness are blessings that are given only to


those who follow the straight path. Muhammad (bpuh) left us upon
one end of this path, and at the other end of it are the gardens of
Paradise.
And indeed We should then have guided them to a Straight Way )
(Qur 'an 4: 68)
By happiness \Ve mean this: when one adheres to the straight
path, though he may be afflicted with hardships along the way, he is
confident of a happy ending and a future abode in Paradise. As a
result, he will follow the Prophet (bpuh), who spoke not from his own
desires, who was im1nune to the whisperings of the Devil, and whose
sayings are a proof upon mankind.
!For each [person], there are angels in succession, hefore and
hehind him. They guard him by the Cammand af Allah)
(Qur 'an 13: 11)
Ten gemsfor a good and nohle /{fe 197

One can sense the joy o f a righteous person by his mannerisms


and by his treading the straight path. He knows that he has a Lord and
that he has a role model in the Messenger (bpuh); he has the B ook o f
Allah i n his hand, illumination i n his heart, and a conscience that
prompts him to do well. He is advancing to a greater state ofbliss and
is always striving for betterment.
This is the Guidance (f Allah with which he guides whosoever He
will of His slaves) (Qur 'an 6: 88)
There are two paths: one that is figurative and the other that has a
physical reality. The first path is that of faith, which one treads in this
transient life - a life that is fraught with temptations and desires. The
second path is in the Hereafter. Every person \vill have to go across
that second path in order to reach Paradise. A nyone who fails will
plunge into the Fire. This path or bridge is teeming with spikes.
Whoever is guided to the path of faith and belief in this life will safely
cross the path of the H ereafter - the speed at which he crosses will
be proportional to the level of his faith. And know that if one is
blessed with being guided to the straight path, his worries and
anxieties will quickly vanish.

Ten gems for a good and noble life

1. Wake up in the last third of the night to b eg forgiveness from


Allah.
And those who pray and beg Allah s-'. Pardon in the last hours of the
night) (Qur 'an 3: 1 7)
2 . At least once in a while, seclude yourself from people in order to
contemplate.
And [those who} think deepZv about the creation of the heavens and
the earth.. ) (Qur 'an 3: 1 9 1)
3 . Stay in the company of the righteous.
1 98 Ten gems.for a good and nohle li.fe

And keep yourself patiently with those who call on their Lord. . )
(Qur 'an 18: 28)
4. Remember Allah often.
Remember A llah with much remembrance) (Qur 'an 33: 41)
5. Pray two units of prayer with sincerity and devotion.
Those who offer their prayer with all solemnity and Juli
submissiveness. (Qur 'an 23: 2)
6. Recite the Qur'an with understanding and reflection.
Do they not then consider the Qur 'an carefully? (Qur 'an 4: 82)
7 . Fast on a hot, dry day.
"He abandons his food, drink, and desire - all for Me. "
8 . Give charity secretly.
"Until the left hand doesn 't know what the right hand
has spent . "
9 . Provide relief and aid to the afflicted Muslim.
"Whoever gives relief to a Muslim from one of the
vicissitudes of this life, Allah will relieve him from a
calamity that is from the calamities of the Day of
Judgment. "
1 0. B e as abstemious and abstinent as possible in this fleeting world.
The Hereafter is betler and more lasting. (Qur 'an 87: 1 7)
Among the delusions of Prophet Noah's son was his saying:
'/ will betake myself to a mountain, it will save mefrom the water.
(Qur 'an 1 1 : 43)
Had he betaken himself to Allah, his outcome would have been
very different. The cause of misery for An-Namrood
(Nebuchadnezzar) was his saying, "I bring about life and I cause
death. " H e tried wearing a garb that wasn 't his and he claimed to
have a quality that he didn 't in faet have - and thus his downfall
became complete.
Ten gemsf(Jr a good and noble /{fe 199

The key t o our happiness can be summed u p i n one simple yet


profound phrase, the Phrase of Tawljeed (lslamic Monotheism):
"There is none worthy of worship except A llah and Muhammad is
His Messenger. "
When one pronounces this phrase on earth, it will be said to him
in the heavens, "You have spoken the truth. "
And he [Muhammad} who has brought the truth [this Qur 'an and
Islamic Monotheism] and [those who} believed therein . . .
(Qur 'an 39: 33)
And when one lives his life in hannony with this phrase on a
practical level, he will be saved from destruction, shame, and the
Heilfire.
i4nd A llah will deliver those who are the Muttaqoon [piousJ to their
places af success [Paradise}. (Qur 'an 39: 61)
When one not only applies the Phrase of Tawljeed, but also calls
others to it, his name will be remembered and he will be made
victorious:
And that Our hosts, they verily would be the victors.
(Qur 'an 3 7: 1 73)
When one loves the Phrase of Tawljeed, h e will b e elevated in
ranking and endowed with honor.
But honor, power and glory belong to A llah, His Messenger
[Muhammad}, and to the believers. . ) (Qur 'an 63: 8)
Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) called out with the Phrase
of Tawljeed and his situation underwent a dramatic inward change
that ran parallel to his outward change of being freed from slavery.
He brings them out from darkness into light) (Qur 'an 2: 257)
Abu Lahab balked at and desisted from saying the Phrase of
Tawljeed. He died in a weak and pathetic state.
And whosoever A llah disgraces, none can honor him)
(Qur 'an 22: 18)
200 Don 't be sad - Learn to deal with your rea/ity

The Phrase of Taweed is an elixir that transforms the base


human being into a paragon of pureness and devotion.
But We have made it [this Qur 'an} a light wherewith We guide
whosoever of Our slaves We will) (Qur 'an 42: 52)
Whatever you do, do not exult in wealth acquired if you have
tumed your back on the Hereafter. lf you do tum your back on the
Hereafter, a harsh punishment and severe chastisement will lie in wait
for you:
'My wealth has not availed me. My power and arguments [to defend
myselj] have gone fiom mel ' (Qur 'an 69: 28-29)
Verily, your Lord is Ever Watchful [over themj) (Qur 'an 89: 14)
Also, do not exult excessively in your child ifyou have forgotten
your Lord. Tuming away from Him is the ultimate failure.
And they were covered with humiliation and mi.sery. . .
(Qur 'an 2: 61)
And finally, do not be complacent about your wealth if your
deeds are evil, for such deeds will be your disgrace in the Hereafter.
But surely the torment of the Hereafter will be more disgracing. . .
(Qur 'an 4 1 : 1 6)
And it is not your wealth, nor your children that bring you nearer to
Us [i. e. pleases A llah], but only he [will please Us} who believes {in
the lslamic Mon otheism}, and does righteous deeds" )
(Qur 'an 34: 3 7)

Don 't be sad - Learn to deal with your reality

In this life, if you inwardly disparage something you can 't have,
its value will diminish for you. And if you are contented with not
getting something that you really wanted, then your heart will find
solace.
Don 't be sad - Learn to deal with your reality 20 I

'A llah will give us of His Bounty, and [also} His Messenger [from
alms, etc.}. We implore A llah [to enrich U,!)}. (Qur 'an 9: 59)
I once read about a man who fell out of a window. The ring he
was wearing became stuck around a nail that wasn 't nailed down
completely on the ledge, and consequently, his ring finger was pulled
from its root, leaving him with four fingers. The amazing thing is not
the incident itself, but the contentment shown by the man long after
the accident, contentment that is i llustrated in the following words,
"It hardly ever crosses my mind that I have fou r fingers on one hand
or that I have lost a finger. It only comes back when I remember the
accident. Otherwise, my work is going wel l and I am content with
what happened. "
"Allah has made His decree, and as He pleases, H e
does. "
I know a man who lost his left arm as a result of a disease. H e has
lived for many years since: he got married and has children. H e
drives his car without difficulty and performs the various tasks of his
work with ease. He is so at ease that it is as if Allah created him with
only one arm to begin with.
"Be content with what Allah has portioned out for you
and you will be the richest of peop le . "
How quickly w e adapt to our circumstances! And i t is amazing
how we adapt our thinking when a change in life-style is imposed
upon us. Fifty years ago, a house consisted of a carpet made from
palm tree leaves, a jug for water, a small amount of coal, and a few
other paltry items. People managed as they do now, and a lack of
resources or comfort did not make life any less important than it is
now. An Arab poet said:
"The soul desires more if you encourage it,
But it retums to contentment when it i s disciplined. "
202 Don 't he sad - Learn to dea/ ll'ith your reality

A battle between two tribes in the central Mosque of Kufa broke


out when members of each tribe began to hurl insults at the other
tribe. A man who w as in the Mosque stealthily made his escape in
order to seek out Al-Al).naf ibn Qays, who was recognized by all as a
consummate peace-maker. The man found him in his house milking a
goat. A l-Al:mafwas dressed in a garment that was not even worth ten
dirhams (i.e. it was ragged and cheap). He was emaciated, haggard
looking, and one of his legs was longer than the other, which gave
him a bad limp. When he was informed of the news, no change
became manifest on his countenance and he remained calm. This
display of fortitude stems from the faet that Al-AI:inaf had witnessed
much strife and hardship during his life, and consequently, he
became used to such an occurrence. He told the man, "By the will of
Allah, everything w ill be all right. " He then began to take his
breakfast as if nothing had happened. His breakfast consisted of a
morsel of dry bread, oil, salt, and a glass of water. H e mentioned
Allah's name and ate . Then he praised Allah and said, "Wheat from
Iraq, oil from Syria, water from Dajlah (Tigris), and salt from Merv.
Verily, these are great blessings." He put on his clothes, took his
walking stick, and made his way to the people. When they saw him,
their gazes became fixed on him and they listened attentively to what
he had to say. He said words of peace and of compromise, words that
pleased both sides, and he requested them to depart and go their own
ways. They all acquiesced and each of them left without a trace of
rancor remaining in his heart, and in this way the ordeal ended
peacefully. An Arab poet said:
"One can reach nobility even if
His clothes are tattered and his pocket is patched. "
There are many l essons to be learned from this narrative. One of
them is that greatness is not in appearance or clothes: other lessons
are that having few material possessions is not an indication of
Don 't be sad - Learn ro deal lvith your reality 203

misery and that happiness does not reside in comfort and wealth.
fWs for man, when his Lord tries him by giving him Honor and gfts,
then he says [puffed up}: 'My Lord has honored me '. But when He
tries him, by straitening his means of l(fe, h e says: 'My Lord has
humiliated me! (Qur 'an 89: 15- 1 6)
Another lesson we should take away from the narrative is that a
person's character and qualities are the yardsticks of his worth, and
not his clothes, shoes, or house. His worth is weighed by his
knowledge, generosity, manners, and deeds.
Verily, the most honorable ofyou with A llah is that [believerJ who
has At-Taqwa [who is piousj) (Qur 'an 49: 1 3)
The connection between the narrative and the subj ect matter of
this book is that happiness is not found in opulence, mansions, gold,
or silver; instead, happiness is something that manifests itself in the
heart through faith, contentment, and knowledge.
So let not their wealth ar their children amaze you.
(Qur 'an 9: 55)
Say: 'In the Bounty afA llah, and in His Mercy [i. e. Islam and the
Qur 'an}; - therein let them rejoice. ' That is better than what [the
wealth} they amass. (Qur 'an J O: 5 8)
Train yourself to surrender your will to whatever i s decreed for
you. What will you do if you do not believe in the decree of Allah?
Whatever you plan other than complete submission to Allah 's Di vine
Decree will provide no benefit for you. And so. you may ask, what is
the solution to hardships?
The solution i s to say sincerely, "We are contented, pleased, and
have surrendered our wills."
Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even ifyou are in
fortresses built up strong and high! (Qur 'an 4: 78)
One of the most difficult days of my life, and a most painful day
it was, was when the doctor told me that the arm of my brother
204 Don 't he sad - Learn to deal with your reality

Muhammad had to be amputated. The news fell upon my ears like


thunder. I was overcome (with emotion) and my soul sought comfort
in Allah 's sayings:
No calamity befalls. but with the leave [i. e. decision and Qadar
(Divine Preordainments)j ofAllah, and whosoever believes in Allah,
He guides his heart [to the true faith}. " (Qur 'an 64: li)
But give glad tidings to the patient ones. Who, when ajjlicted with
calamity, say: 'Truv.' To A llah we belong and truly, to Him we shall
return. ' (Qur 'an 2: 155-1 56)
These verses instilled a sense of peace and comfort in my soul.
There is no form of artifice that can prevent from happening that
which is decreed. Therefore we must keep faith and submit our wills.
Or have they plotted some plan ? Then We too are planning)
(Qur 'an 43: 79)
fAnd A llah has full power and con tro! over His Affairs" )
(Qur 'an 12: 2 1)
When He decrees a matter, He only says to it: 'Be! ' - and it is)
(Qur 'an 2: 11 7)
AJ-Khansaa an-Nakh'aiyah was told in one breath ofthe death of
her four boys, who all <lied in the path of Allah, at the battle of Al
Qaadisiyah. H er only reaction was to praise Allah and thank Him for
choosing what was best. Faith fortifies one's ability to persevere
through hardship. And through gratitude, one achieves happiness in
this life and in the Hereafter. If you are loath to follow this advice,
then ask yourself this : is there a viable alternative? If that alternative
is bittemess, complaining, and a refusal to accept what has happened,
then you will only bring upon yourself pain in this life and in the
Hereafter.
"Whoever is contented, then for him is pleasure, and
whoever (displays) anger, then for him is wrath. "
Don 't he sad - Leam to deal irirh rour realit1
. .
205

The best remedy and course of action after a calamity is to say


with sincerity, "Verily, We belong to Allah and indeed, to Him is our
return. " This means that we are all from Allah 's creation; that we
belong to Him; that we are in His kingdom; and that we shall return to
Him. The beginning is with Him and the return is to Him. The whole
affair is in the Rands of Allah.
An Arab poet said:
"My own soul that possesses things is itself departing,
So why should I cry over a possession when it leaves. "
Allah, the Exalted, said:
Eve1ything will perish save His Face) (Qur 'an 28: 88)
Whatsoever is an it [the earth} will perish. } (Qur 'an 55: 26)
Verily, you [O ' Muhammad} will die and veriv, they [tao] will die)
(Qur 'an 39: 30)
If you were shocked to leam that your house bum ed down, that
your son died, or that your life's savings were lost, what would you
do? From this moment, prepare yourself mentally. Trying to escape
or elude what is decreed is a fruitless endeavor that brings no benefit.
Be satisfied with what has been decreed, acknowledge your reality,
and eam your reward. You have no other option. Sure, you might say
that there is another option, but it is a base one and I wam you to stay
clear from it: it is to complain and grumble, and to lose your
composure by flaring into rage and anger. What can this attitude and
behavior possibly accomplish? You will eam anger from your Lord,
and people will revile you. Furthennore, what you have lost will not
return and your calamity will not be lightened for you:
Let him stretch out a rope to the ceiling and let him strangle himse(f"
Then let him see whether his plan will remove that whereat he
rages! (Qur 'an 2 2: I 5)
206 Don 't be sad - Sooner or later everything . . .

Don 't be sad - Sooner or later


everything in this world perishes

Death is the end of us all : the oppressor and the oppressed, the
mighty and the feeble, the rich and the poor. Your death is no novelty.
Nations before have gone and nations after will perish.
Ibn Batoota related that in the north, there is a graveyard with
one thousand kings buried in it. At the entrance of this graveyard is a
sign that reads:
"The Kings: ask the dirt about them,
And about the great leaders; they are all bones now. "
A cause for wonder is the forgetfulness of man and how he
remains heedless of death, the menace of which hangs over him day
and night. Man deludes himself into thinking that he is immortal on
this earth.
O ' Mankind! Fear ) our Lord and be dutifu l to Him! Verily, the
earthquake of the Hour [of Judgment} is a terrible thing.
(Qur 'an 22: 1)
Draws near for mankind their reckoning, while they turn away in
heedlessness) (Qur 'an 21: 1)
When Allah destroyed a nation and wiped out a transgressing
people, He, the A lmighty, said:
Can youjind a single one ofthem or hear even a whisper ofthem?
(Qur 'an 19: 98)

Depression leads to misery

The newspaper Al-Muslimoon reported that in 1 990 two million


people suffered from depression around the world. Depression is a
sickness that has quietly wreaked havoc on humankind. It does not
distinguish between people from the west or east, or between the rich
Depression may lead to suicide 207

and poor. It is a malady that attacks all kinds of people". and may in
certain cases lead to suicide.
Depression does not recognize or stand in awe of wealth,
nobility, or power. However, it does stay aloof from the believer.
Some statistics indicate that 200 million people are now suffering
from depression.
The tindings of a recent study showed that at least one out of
every ten people has at one time or another suffered from this
dangerous sickness. The <langer is not restricted to adults; even the
young are now susceptible to depression. Even the fetus in the womb
is at risk, for a depressed mother can tum to abortion as a means of
escaping from her problems.

Depression may lead to suicide

Mnd do not kil! yourselves. (Qur 'an 4: 2 9)


And do not throw yourselves into destruction. .. (Qur 'an 2: 1 95)
Reports were leaked that former President Ronald Reagan fell
victim to a state of severe depression. His situation was attributed to
his being over seventy years of age while still having to face
tremendously stressful problems and to his having undergone
periodic operations.
Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even ifyou are in
fortresses built up strong and high! (Qur 'an 4: 78)
Many famous people, and in particular those in the arts, suffer
from depression. The main reason, if not the only reason, for poet
Sale}) Jaaheen's death was indeed depression. It has also been said
that Napoleon Bonaparte, while still in exile, died in a state of
depression.
And that their souls shall depart [die} while they are disbelievers)
(Qur 'an 9: 55)
208 Depression may lead to suicide

Not too long a.fo. a German woman killed three of her children.
It later became c l .:ar that her reason for doing this horrible aet
stemmed from her :sr.ate of depression. Since she loved her children a
great deal, she feared that they would have to go through the pain and
hardship that she b1d undergone in her life. Thus, she decided to
"give them comfo r:'" and "to save each one of them" from the
difficulties and vicJ)Situdes of life. After murdering them, she took
her own life.
The numbers i sued by the World Health Organization indicate
the severity of the s:tuation. In 1 973 it reported that three percent of
the world's populatton was afflicted with depression. The figures
increased dramaticadJy and in 1 978 the figure was up to five percent.
What might come a surprise to some is that some studies have
shown that one out c- f every four Americans suffers from depression.
During the conference of Mental Disorders that was held in Chicago
in 1 9 8 1 , the chairm:..ln of the conference announced that one hundred
million people in the world suffer from depression. What might come
as a surprise to soT1e is that most of them were from developed
countries. Other stiudies have even proclaimed a number of two
hundred million.
See they not that ;hey are tried once or twice every year [with
different kinds of C11.<lamities, disease, famine, etc.}?
(Qur 'an 9: I 26)
It is said that, ""The intelligent person is not he who is able to
increase his profits, but he who transforms his losses into profits. "
There did A llah grve you ane distress after another by way of
requital to teach yorA n ot to grievefor that which had escaped you)
(Qur 'an 3: 1 53)
The meaning of his verse is that things that are over and finished
with should not be dNe lt upon, since doing so leads only to anxiety,
worry, and wastage l)f time.
Depresshm may !ead to suicide 209

When having no work to do, one can fi l l his time with many
useful activities. These are some such activities - doing good deeds,
helping others, visiting the sick, visiting the graveyard (to remember
and retlect on one's final destination), volunteering in the Mosque,
participating in charitable work, doing physical exercise, visiting
loved ones, organizing one's affairs, and lending aid to the old, the
poor, and the weak.
Veriv, you are returning towards your Lord - with your deeds and
actions [good or bad}, a sure returning." (Qur 'an 84: 6)
An Arab poet said:
"A generous deed is singular in its sweet taste
And in its beautiful appearance."
Look through any history book and you will find among its
pages stories of pain, privation, and misery. An Arab poet said:
"Read History as it is filled with morals,
A Nation will sink if it knows nothing of its annals. "
And all that We relate to you of the news of the Messengers is in
order that We may make strong and firm your heart thereby )
(Qur 'an I l : 120)
lndeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding.
(Qur 'an 1 2 : 111)
So relate the stories, perhaps that they may re.flect)
(Qur 'an 7: 1 76)
'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, " M y goal now
remains to find enjoyment in the different things that have been
decreed for me, " a statement that indicates his contentment with
Allah 's decree for him.
In the span of one year, eight of Abi Thuaib al-Hathali's sons
died during a plague. And what do you suppose he said? H e kept
faith, was resigned, and submitted to Allah's decree, saying:
210 Depression may leacl to suicide

"Patience will I show to those who rejoiced in my pain,


I will not shake or tremble with the vicissitudes of time,
When death looms and bares its claws,
No chann or trinket can ward it off. "
No calamity befalls. but with the Leave [i. e. decision and Qadar
(Divine Pre-ordainments)} of Allah. (Qur 'an 64: 11)
Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) lost his eyesight,
and he said to himself these words of solace:
"If Allah takes from me the light of my eyes,
My heart remains illuminated,
My heart understands and my mind is not perverse,
And my tongue is like a blade of an unsheathed sword."
H e comforted himself by remembering the many favors of Allah
that yet remained for him after having lost only one of them.
During the duration of a single day 'Urwah ibn Zubayr (may
Allah be pleased with him) lost one ofhis legs and was informed that
his son had died. This was his reaction:
"O ' Allah, to You belongs all praise. If You have taken away,
then You have also given. And if You have tested (me) with
hardship, You have also saved me and cared (for me). You
have bestowed upon me four limbs and have taken only one
away. You have blessed me with four sons and have taken only
one away. "
And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments,
because they were patient) (Qur 'an 76: 12)
Peace be upon you for that you persevered in patience!
(Qur 'an 13: 24)
The following words of consolation have been attributed to
Imam Ash-Shafi 'ee:
"Let the days bring what they may,
And be contented when a decree has come to pass,
Depression may lead to suicide 211

When the execution of it comes in a land o f some nation,


Neither earth nor sky can prevent it. "
How many times have we feared death and then nothing came of
it? How many times have we felt the end near. yet we then returned
stronger than before? How many times have we found ourselves in
difficulties, yet after the passing of a short time were allowed to taste
the sweetness of ease and relief?
Say [O ' Muhammad}: 'A llah rescues you from it and from a ll
[other} distresses. . . (Qur 'an 6: 64)
Or how many times have we been sick only to be restored to
health?
And if Allah touches you with harm, none can rem ove it but He" .
(Qur 'an 6: 1 7)
When one knows with certainty that Allah controls everything,
how then can he feel any fear of anyone other than H im? And when
one fears Allah, how can he fear others alongside Him, especially
considering that Allah, the Exalted, said:
" .so fear them not, but fear Me" ) (Qur 'an 3: 1 75)
He is All-Powerful:
And that Our hosts, they verily would be the victors.
(Qur 'an 3 7: 1 73)
Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those
who believe in this world s life and on the Day when the witnesses
will stand forth [i. e. Day of Resurrection}. (Qur 'an 40: 51)
Ibn Taymiyah said that with the phrase, "There is neither might
nor power except with Allah, " heavy things are carried, obstacles are
overcome, and honor is achieved. So remember this phrase
constantly, since it is a treasure from the treasures o f Paradise and a
pillar of happiness and contentment.
212 Asking A llah forj(Jrgiveness opens locked doors

Asking Allah for forgi,veness opens locked doors

Ibn Taymiyah said,


"When I arn c onfused in my understanding of an issue in
religion, I forthwith beseech Allah to forgive me one thousand
times - maybe a little more or maybe a little less. Then Allah
opens what was closed for rne and I come to understand. "
I said [to them}: 'Askforgivenessfrom your Lord; Verily, He is Oft
Forgiving; he will send rain to you in abundance. '
(Qur 'an 71: 10-11)
One way of finding inner peace is to constantly seek forgiveness
from Allah. Even a sin can be a blessing if it causes the believer to
tum to his Lord i n repentance. In Al-Musnad the following is related:

"Allah does not rnake a decree for his slave except that
it is better for him."
In regards to this hadith, Ibn Tayrniyah was asked, "Even the
sin? " H e replied, "Yes, if it is followed by repentance, regret, asking
for forgiveness, and a sincere feeling of remorse for having
transgressed . "
If they [hypocrites} , when they had heen unjust to themselves, had
come to you [Muhammad} and begged Allah s Forgiveness, and the
Messenger had begged forgiveness for them: indeed, they would
have .found A llah A ll-Forgiving, Most Mercful. J (Qur 'an 4: 64)
And so are the day5; [good and not so good}, We give to men by
turns" ) (Qur 'an 3: 1 40)
qThe day they see it, [it will be] as f they had not tarried [in this
world} except an afternoon or a morning) (Qur 'an 79: 46)
I always feel wonder when reflecting on some famous historical
figures. Even though they faced hardships, it seems as if to them their
hardships were as gentle as drops of water. In the forefront of this
elite group is the leader of the creation, Muhammad (bpuh). He was
A sk ing A llahf(nf()rgiveness opens locked doors 213

in the cave with Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), with his
enemies near them, and he said to his Companion:
'Be not sad [or afiaid}, surely Allah is with us. ' (Qur 'an 9: 40)
"Glad tidings from the unseen at the mouth of the cave:
Revelation that led to happiness for the world. "
Just before the battle of Badr, the Prophet (bpuh) eagerly put on
his annor while saying:
Their muftitude will be put toflight, and they lVi!l show their backs)
(Qur 'an 54: 45)
And in the battle of Ul:md, after some of his Companions were
martyred and others were injured, the Prophet (bpuh) said to his
Companions:
"Line up behind me so that I can praise my Lord. "
It was the determination and will power o f a Prophet that could
even, by the will of Allah, shake mountains.
Qays ibn 'Aaim al-Manqari, famous among the Arabs for his
patience, was once narrating a story to some of his companions, when
a man came and told Qays, "Your son has been murdered. The son of
so-and-so was the culprit. " Qays didn 't cut his story short, but
instead continued relating it in a calm demeanor until he finished.
Then he said, "Wash my son, shroud him, and allow me to pray over
him ! "
And those who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment [disease}
and at the time offighting [during the battles}. (Qur 'an 2: 1 77)
lkrimah ibn Abi Jahl (may Allah be pleased with him) was
offered water on his deathbed, and he said, "Offer it to so and so. "
There were a number of them, all on the verge of dying, and each
preferred the person beside him to his own self, and with this
wonderful display of brotherhood they all <lied.
214 People should depend on you, and not you on them

People should depend on you, and not you on them

The noble hearted one works for people and does not allow them
to seive him. Therefore he doesn 't embark on a project that will
require him to rely upon others.
In helping others. people have a limit or point, up to which they
are willing to strive and sacrifice for others. And this limit is seldom
exceeded.
Consider Husain ibn 'Ali, the grandson of the Prophet (bpuh).
He was murdered, and the nation did not stir. Instead, his murderers
danced in the streets, chanting praises to Allah for their victory -
may Allah be pleased with Husain. An Arab poet wrote:
"They came w ith your head, O' grandson of Muhammad,
Rejoicing at its dripping blood with joy and mirth,
Praising Allah for having killed you, but
They only killed their praises and their religion. "
Imam Al)mad w as tortured by being severely beaten with a
whip. He was on the verge of dying and nobody moved a finger to
help him.
So in voke not with Allah another ilah [god}. " (Qur 'an 2 6: 213)
Ibn Taymiyah was captured and was made to mount a mule, to
be paraded on it and humiliated. Throngs of people who later
attended his funeral d i d nothing while that happened, simply because
people, with the rare exception, have a ce11ain limit they will not go
beyond in helping others.
Mnd they possess n either hurt nor bene.flt for themselves, and
possess no power [af causing] death, nor [of giving] life, nor af
raising the dead. (Qur 'an 25: 3)
!O ' Prophet [Muhammad}! A llah is Sujjicient for you and for the
believers rvho follow you. !. (Qur 'an 8: 64)
Prudence 215

fAnd put your trust [O ' Muhammad} in the Ever Living One Who
dies not. . ) (Qur 'an 25: 58)
Verily, they can avail you nothing against Allah [if He wants to
punish youj. (Qur 'an 45: 1 9)

Prudence

No one spends prudently except that he is saved from having to


depend on others. A poet said:
"Save your money, for with wealth comes respect,
And you can do without asking uncle or cousin. "
The philosophy that promotes extravagance in spending is false
and is detrimental to one 's well being. The roots of such ideas are
found in India, or originate from the ignorant among the Sufis.
Indeed, Islam promotes eaming money honestly and spending it in a
proper way. Applying these two principles is what makes one
honorable through his wealth. The fol lowing saying of the Prophet
(Blessings and Peace be upon him) is proof of this:
"Blessed is good wealth (that which is eamed honestly)
in the bands of a righteous man."
In contrast to him is one who is inundated in debt or one who is
indigent. The former is always troubled and worried that all of his
possessions will be taken away from him, and the latter 1s
continuously struggling just to find the means of staying alive.
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"O' Allah, I seek refuge in You from disbelief and from
poverty. "
He (bpuh) also said:
"Poverty is almost disbelief. "
There is no contradiction between the previous hadith and the
hadith in Ibn Maajah :
216 Prudence

"Seek to have little in this world, and Allah will love you;
do not seek what others have, and people will love you . "
This hadith has a defect i n terms of its authenticity. Yet suppose
it to be other than weak, and the meaning is that you should be
content with having the bare necessities, and you should be satisfied
with that amount of provision which saves you from having to beg or
ask for people 's help. At the same time, you should be noble and self
dependent and have sufficient means to prevent you from asking
others for help.
"Whoever wishes to be free from dependence on others,
Allah will make him so. "
An Arab poet said:
"I never had my hands outstretched except to the Creator,
And I never sought a dollar from one who reminds others of
his favors. "
I n an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"For you to leave rich those who inherit from you is
better than leaving them poor, (in which case) they will
have to ask of people. "
In another authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"The upper hand is better than the lower one. "
The meaning of this hadith is that the giver is better than the receiver.
The one who knows them not, thinks that they are rich because of
their modesty ) (Qur 'an 2: 2 73)
The following verse indicates that one should not be fulsome in
praising people in order to receive financial assistance from them,
since Allah has guaranteed our sustenance:
Do they seek hon01: power and glory with them ? Verily, then to
A llah belongs all honor, power and glory. J} (Qur 'an 4: 139)
An Arab poet said:
"I have no intention of kissing someone's hand.
Do not cling to o ther than A llah 217

For me, cutting it off is better than that kiss,


When one gives me a favor he enslaves me,
Or if not, at least I feel ashamed. "

Do not cling to other than Allah

If Allah, the Exalted, is the One Who brings to life, causes death,
and if He alone provides for all creation, \.vhy fear peopl e or be
distressed by their actions? I think that in our society much grief and
anxiety is caused by our attachment to people - in seeking to please
them, trying to gain their favor, striving to prai se the important ones
among them, and feeling wounded by their disparaging treatment.
And all of this indicates a weakness in one' s belief in Allah.
An Arab poet said:
"Would that you were pleased when l i fe is bitter,
And would that you were contented when people are angry,
If your love for Allah is true, then all else is insignificant,
And all above the dirt is dirt. "

Doing those things that bring you peace

Ibn al-Qayyim enumerated some of the factors that bring about


tranquility:
1 . Islamic Monotheism, or worshipping Allah exclusively without
associating any partners with him (in worship), and without
associating any partners with Him in all qualities that belong to Him
alone. The disbeliever and the one who associates partners with
Allah, the Almighty, are, for all effective purposes, dead and not alive.
But whosoever turns away fiom My Rem inder [i. e. neither believes
in this Qur 'an nor acts on its orders, etc.} verily, for him is a life of
hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of
218 Doing those t hings thai bring you peace

Resurrection. (Qur 'an 20: 124)


And whosoever A llah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam .. )
(Qur 'an 6: 12 5)
fis he whose breast A llah has opened to Islam, so that he is in light
from His Lord [as h e who is non-Muslim]? (Qur 'an 39: 22)
Allah, the Exalted, wamed His enemies with the following verse:
We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because
they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He had sent no
authority. . ) (Qur 'an 3: 1 5 1)
So, woe to those whose hearts are hardened against remembrance
of A llah! (Qur 'an 39: 22)
And whosoever He ilts to send astray, He makes his breast closed
and constricted, as if he is climbing up to the sky. (Qur 'an 6: 125)
2 . Useful knowledge , because the most happy, easy-going, and
contented kind of person is the scholar. Why should scholars not be,
for they are the inheritors of Muhammad (bpuh)?
t4nd [Allah} taught you that which you knew not) (Qur 'an 4: 113)
So know [O ' Muhammad} that none has the right to be worshipped
but A llah. . ) (Qur 'an 4 7: 1 9)
3 . Good deeds. A good deed brings light both to the heart and to the
face. D oing good deeds results in being blessed in one 's sustenance,
and the hearts of people are naturally attracted to the doer of good.
We should surely have bestowed on them water [rain}, in
abundance) (Qur 'an 72: 1 6)
4. Bravery, for the courageous person is firm and strong and fears
Allah alone. Difficulties and hardship neither shake nor disturb him.
5. Avoiding sins. S inning ruins one's peace of mind and makes one
feel lonely and in the dark:
"I saw that sins cause the heart to die
And addiction brings disgrace to the addicted. "
6. Not being extravagant in that which is lawful. In other words, one
Pre-ordainment 219

should be moderate i n speaking, sleeping, and mixing with people,


and likewise one should be abstemious in one's eating habits.
And those who turn away from Al-Laghw [dirty, evil vain talk,
fa/sehood and all that Allah has forbidden}. (Qur 'an 23: 3)
Not a word does he [or she] utter, but there is a watcher by h im
ready [to record it}) (Qur 'an 50: 1 8)
And eat and drink but waste not by extravagance. . . (Qur 'an 7: 3 1)
An Arab poet said:
"O' companion of the bed, you have slept excessively,
Don't you know that after death is a long sleep . "

Pre-ordainment

A man who had a mental disorder and an extreme anxiety


problem sought advice from a Muslim doctor, who advised him,
saying, "Know that no matter what the plans are that someone has for
the future, there is no movement, not so much as a whisper, in this
world but that it occurs by the permission o f Allah . "
The following i s related in a hadith:
"Verily, Allah wrote the Maqaadeer (everything that
will happen) of the creation fifty thousand years before
H e created them. "
Al-Mutanabbi wrote:
"Small things are greatly magnified in the eyes of the small
one,
And great things are diminished in size in the eyes of the great
one. "

The sweet taste of freedom

Ar-Raashid wrote in A l-Masaar:


220 Dirt 1ras the pi/1011' (d' St{/_'lan ath- Tha11Ti

"Whoever possesses three hundred sixty loaves, a canister of


oil, and one thousand six hundred dates (i.e., enough provision
for one year), then none can enslave him. "
One of our pious predecessors once said:
"The one who i s satisfied with dry bread and water will be free
from slavery except the slavery to Allah.
And have in his mind no favor from anyone for which a reward is
expected in return) (Qur 'an 92: 1 9)
"My aspirations and desires enslaved me since I obeyed them,
lf I had only been contented, I would have been free."
Those who seek to make wealth or status a means to happiness
will come to know i n the end how futile and fruitless their efforts
were.
And truly you have come unto Us alone [without wealth,
companions or anyth ing else} as We created you the first time. You
have leji behind all that which We had bestowed on you.
(Qur 'an 6: 94)
Nay, you prefer the life of this world, although the Hereafter is
betler and more lasting) (Qur 'an 8 7: 1 6- 1 7)

Di,rt was the pill.ow of Sufyan ath-Thawri

The lives of eminent scholars of the past are filled with lessons in
humility. During the p ilgrimage season, Sufyan ath-Thawri wanted to
rest for the night, so he placed his cheek on a tiny mound of dirt. The
people said to him, 'You rest your head on dirt, yet you are the
greatest scholar of hadith in the world. " He answered, "This pillow
of mine is indeed better than that of the Caliph. "
Say: 'Nothing sha/l ever happen to us except what A llah has
ordained for us. i (Qur 'an 9: 51)
Do not pay attention to the te/I-tale 221

Do not pay attention to the tell-tale

Predictions of calamity (which rarely come to pass) and evil


premonitions (which are most often false) instill fear into the hearts
of many:
[Satan} threatens you with poverty and o rders :vou to comm it
Fasha [evil deeds, illegal sexual intercourse, sins etc.], whereas
A llah promises you Forgivenessfrom Himself and Bounty, and A llah
is All-Sz4ficientfor his creatures ' needs, All-Knower. (Qur 'an 2: 2 68)
Anxiety, sleeplessness, and ulcers are the ill consequences of
hopelessness and worry.
An Arab poet said:
"Don't punish us for we have already been tortured,
By anxiety that keeps us awake long through the night. "

The curses of the foolish are


of no consequence to you

Abraham Lincoln, America's 1 6th President said:


"I never read malicious, hostile letters that are sent to me. I
never open the envelopes and never bother responding to
them. If I were to become busy in dealing with such marters, I
would have no time left to do things for my people. "
So turn aside from them [do not punish them]. . ) (Qur 'an 4: 63)
So overlook their faults ivith gracious forgiveness.
(Qur 'an 1 5: 85)
So turn away .flom them [O ' Muhammad], and say: Salaam
[peace} !l' (Qur 'an 43: 89)
The commander ofthe American Navy during World War II was
a brilliant leader and tactician, and he eamed a considerable amount
of farne as a result. However, he had to deal with those under his
222 Appreciate the beauty of the universe

cornmand - inferiors who harbored jealousy towards him and


subordinates who constantly attacked him behind his back with
curses and criticism.
And as is usually the case in such instances, he was well aware
of what they said about him. He commented on this, saying, "I now
have an immunity from criticism. I have become old and am now
cognizant of the faet that words cannot destroy greatness, nor can
they bring down a sturdy fence."
An Arab poet said:
"What do the poets want from me (through attacking me
verbally)
And I have past in age the limit of forty. "
It has been claimed that ' Eesa (Jesus) (may peace be upon him) said:
"Love your enemy. "
The meaning of this saying is that you should give a general
pardon to your enemies. This way, you will be free from feelings of
revenge, and free fro1n hatred and rancor.
And those who pardon men; verily, A llah loves the good doers)
(Qur 'an 3: 134)
After gaining controI of Makkah, the Messenger of Allah (bpuh)
said to those who had previously inflicted much harm against him:
"Go forth, for you are the freed ones. "
No reproach o n you this day. . ) (Qur 'an 12: 92)
Allah has forgiven what is past. . ) (Qur 'an 5: 95)

Appreciate the beauty of the universe

By studying and appreciating the wonders of Allah 's creation,


you will find peace. Allah, the Exalted, says:
We cause to grow wonderful gardens Juli of beauty and delight)
(Qur 'an 2 7: 60)
Appreciate the heauty of the universe 223

Say: 'Behold all that is in the heavens and the earth. '
(Qur 'an J O: 1 01)
Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
guided it aright. (Qur 'an 20: 50)
Learn from the bright sun, shining stars, rivers, streams,
mountains, trees, fruits, air, and water.
So blessed be A llah, the Best of creators) (Qur 'an 23: 1 4)
A poet said:
"In everything there is a sign,
Indicating that He is One."
Ilyaa Abu Maa<;li said:
"O' complainer who has no cause to grumble,
Irnagine how you would be if you became ill,
Do you see the thorn and the roses yet remain blind?
Or the dewdrops: did you miss them?
He who himself is void of beauty,
Sees nothing beautiful in nature. "
Do they not look at the camels, how they are created?
(Qur 'an 88: 1 7)
Einstein said that whoever looks reflectively at the Universe
knows that the One who created it perfectly is All-Wise and is not
playing with dice.
The One Who made everything, He has created good)
(Qur 'an 32: 7)
We created them not except with truth [i.e. to examine and test those
who are obedient and those who are disobedient and then reward the
obedient anes and punish the disobedient anes}. . . (Qur 'an 44: 3 9)
Did you think that We had created you in play [without any
purpose}. (Qur 'an 23: 1 1 5)
The meaning of these verses is that everything is planned and
measured according to divine wisdom. And whoever studies the
224 A varice is of no avail

creation knows that there is One All-Powerful God Who sustains and
manages everything and that the nation that everything happens by
coincidence is false.
The sun and the moon run on their fixed courses [exactly}
calculated with measured out stages for each [for reckoning, etc.}.
(Qur 'an 55: 5)
It is notfor the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip
the day. They all float, each in an orbit) (Qur 'an 36: 40)

Avarice is of no avail

The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:


"No soul dies until it takes its full portion of Provision
and until it reaches its appointed time of death. "
Therefore why the ambition and why the covetousness?
Everything with Him is in [due} proportion) (Qur 'an 13: 8)
EtAnd the Command of A llah is a decree determined.
(Qur 'an 33: 38)

Bearing hardship atones for sins

The Messenger of A llah (bpuh) said:


"Worry, anxiety, pain, fatigue, sickness or even a thom
that pricks him - when a believer is afflicted with any
of these, A llah grants him pardon for some of his sins
(through or because of those afflictions). "
This reward is for the one who is patient, who seeks his reward
with Allah, who repents to Him, and who knows that all his dealings
are solely with A llah, the Most Gracious.
Al-Mutanabbi wrote:
"Don 't receive what time brings except with indifference,
A llah [ A lone} is sufficient .for us. . . 225

As long as your soul is a companion for your body,


Whatever you are happy with is fleeting,
And sadness revives not lost loved ones. "
In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get,
nor rejoice because af that which has been given to you.
(Qur 'an 5 7: 23)

Allah [Alone} is sufficient for us, and He


zs the hest Disposer of affairs [for usJ

Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham) (may peace be upon him) said this


phrase when he was thrown into the fire and it became cool and
peaceful for him. The Prophet (bpuh) said it at the battle ofUl)ud and
Allah made him victorious. When Ibraheem was placed where the
fire was to be set, the angel Jibreel came to him and asked, "Do you
need anything from me?" Ibraheem confidently responded, "From
you, no. But from Allah, yes ! "
Prophet Moosa (Moses) (may peace be upon him) saw the sea in
front of him and the enemy behind him, and he said:
'Nay, verily! With me is my Lord, He will guide me.
(Qur 'an 26: 62)
It is mentioned in some narrations that when the Prophet (bpuh)
was hiding in the cave, a pigeon came by the will of Allah and made
its nest at the entrance, and a spider built its house at the mouth of the
cave. The disbelievers said, "This is a sign that the cave had not been
disturbed, " and they said, "Muhammad has not entered here. "
Protection from the Lord of all that exists reaches those who have
faith in Him and faith in His being All-Powerful and Most Merciful.
Shawqi said:
"If this protection is directed at you,
Sleep, since everything that happens is peace. "
226 The ingredients o.f happiness

For verily, you are under Our Eyes. . ) (Qur 'an 52: 48)
'Allah is the Best to guard, and He is the Most Mercful ofthose who
show mercy. ' (Qur 'an 12: 64)

The ingredients of happiness

In a hadith related by Tirmidhi, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace


be upon him) said:
"Whoever spends the night safely in his place of sleep,
while he is physically healthy and has sufficient
sustenance for his day, it is as if he achieved the world in
its entirety. "
The meaning of this is that if one has enough food and a safe
place to sleep, then he has achieved the hest ofthe good things in this
world. And many are those who are at this level in life but are
thankless nonetheless. Allah, the Almighty, said to His Messenger
(bpuh):
- I have completed my favor upon you. .
.. . (Qur 'an 5: 3)
After reading this verse, you should ask yourself this question:
what blessing was complete for the Prophet (bpuh)? Was it material
wealth? Was it the possession of castles, mansions, gold, or silver? It
is none of these blessings that Allah is referring to, since the Prophet
(bpuh) was not wealthy.
The Prophet (bpuh) would sleep in a room made of mud. His
roof was made of branches from palm trees. Extreme hunger often
forced him to tie two stones around his stomach, in order to alleviate
the pangs of hunger. His mattress was the branch of a date-palm tree,
which would give him pains in his sides. He had to leave his armor
with a Jew as collateral for thirty measures of wheat, until he would
be able to pay him b ack. He would go three days straight without
tinding so much as a rotten date to eat.
Thefatigue and stress that come. . . 22 7

Mnd indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present [life of
this world}. And verily, your Lord will give you [all i.e. good] so that
you shall be well-pleased. (Qur 'an 93: 4-5)

The fatigue and stress that come


unth an important position

People who have important positions are taxed heavily. Their


responsibilities take away from their health and peace. Very few
people remain unaffected and unharmed from the stresses that are
related to having strenuous and demanding jobs.
"Don't seek to be the Ameer (leader or govemor) . "
'My power and arguments [to defend myself] have gane from m e! '
(Qur 'an 69: 2 9)
Irnagine that the world came to you with everything. Where will
it all go in the end? Without a doubt, all of it will perish.
And the Face ofyour Lord Juli of Majesty and Honour will abide
forever. (Qur 'an 55: 2 7)
A wise man wamed his son:
"Do not seek to be the head, for the head is constantly aching. ''
In other words, do not always aspire to be the leader or the one in
charge. Bitter criticisms, curses, and tough problems are the lot of the
leader. A poet justly said:
"Ralf of the people are enemies of
The govemor, so very few, only if he is just. "

And come to the prayer

And seek help in patience and the praye1 (Qur 'an 2: 45)
Whenever the Prophet (bpuh) was in a difficult situation, he
would hasten to prayer. He would say to Bilal (may Allah be p leased
228 And emne to the prayer

with him) (whose responsibility it was to say the call to prayer),


"O' B ilal, Give us comfort with it. "
When you feel stressed, in difficulty, or when you find yourself
to be the victim of deception, hurry to the Mosque and pray.
Especially on in1portant occasions, the Prophet (bpuh) would
find peace in prayer, such as in the battle of Badr and Al-A/:zzaab. lbn
J:Iajar, who wrote the most important commentary on $al}eel} al
Bukhari, was once trapped in a castle that was surrounded by robbers.
And when he stood up for prayer, Allah saved him.
lbn Asaakir and Ibn al-Qayyim both related the story of a thief
who accosted a righteous man, who was on his way to Sham (i.e. the
present-day area o f S yria and surrounding areas). The thief intended
to kill him, but before he came close, the man asked for a respite of a
few minutes, so that he could say a prayer. H e stood, began his
prayer, and remembered Allah's saying:
Is not He [better than your gods} Who responds to the distressed
one, when he calls Him. (Qur 'an 2 7: 62)
H e repeated this verse three times. An angel descended from the
sky with a spear and killed the transgressor. The angel said, "I am the
angel of the One Who answers the distressed ones when they
supplicate. "
!And enjoin the prayer on your family, and be patient in o.ffering
them [i. e. the prayers}. (Qur 'an 20: 132)
i Verily, the prayer prevents from A l-Fal}sha [i. e. great sins of eve1y
kind, unlaH:ful sexual intercourse, etc.} and A l-Munkar [i. e. disbelie.f,
poytheism, and eve1y kind of evil wicked deed, etc.}.
(Qur 'an 29: 45)
i Verily, the prayer is e1joined on the believers at jixed hours.
(Qur 'an 4: 1 03)
Sending prayers upon the Prophet (bpuh) also helps to remove
hardship:
Charity hrings peace to the giver 229

!O ' you who believe! Send your Salaat [Graces, Honor, Blessings,
and Mercy} on him [Muhammad} and [you should} greet [salute}
him with the Jslamic way of greeting [salutation i.e. As-Salaam
'Alaykum}. ! (Qur 'an 33: 56)
Ubaee ibn Ka'ab (may Allah be pleased with him) asked the
Messenger of Allah (bpuh ),
"How much of my prayer should I dedicate to sending
Salaat upon you?" He said, "As much as you please. "
Ubaee said, "One-fourth?" He said, "As much as you
please, and if you increase, it is better. " H e asked, "Two
thirds?" The Prophet answered, "As much as you please,
and if you increase, it is better. " He then said, ' I will
make it all for you . " The Prophet answered, "Then you
will be forgiven, and your worries will be taken care of. "
The last line of the previous hadith proves that sending prayers
and greetings on the Prophet (bpuh) removes worries.
"O' Allah, send prayers (i.e. praise and exalt him in the
highest of gatherings, that of the closest angels to Allah)
upon Muhammad and the followers ofM uhammad, j ust
as You sent prayers upon Ibraheem and upon the
followers of Ibraheem. Verily, You are fu l l of praise and
majesty. 0' Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and
upon the family of Muhammad, j ust as You sent
blessings upon Ibraheem and upon the family of
Ibraheem. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty. "

Charity brings peace to the gi,ver

Among the factors that contribute to one 's happiness are


performing acts of kindness to others and giv ing charity.
230 Charity brings peace to the giver

Spend of that with which We have provided for you. . . P


(Qur 'an 2: 254)
The men and the women who give $adaqaat [i. e. Zakah, and alms,
etc.]. (Qur 'an 33: 35)
t4nd the likeness of those who spend their wealth seeking A llah s
Pleasure while they in their ownselves are sure and certain that Allah
will reward them [for their spending in His Cause], is the likeness of
a garden on a height: heavy rain Jalls on it and it doubles its yield of
harvest. And (f it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices it.
(Qur 'an 2: 265)
And let not your hand be tied [like a miser] to your neck. . )
(Qur 'an 1 7: 29)
M iserly people are deplorable in their manners and are always ill
at ease. They are stingy in sharing the favors of Allah. If the miser
only knew that he would achieve happiness by spending money on
those who are poor, then he would surely race to give charity.
Ifyou !end to A llah a goodly loan [i. e. spend in A llah s Cause} he
will double it for you, and will forgive you) (Qur 'an 64: 1 7)
And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they
who will be the successful. (Qur 'an 59: 9)
And those who spend out of what we have provided for them [i. e.
give Zakah, spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their
wives, etc. and also give charity to the poor and also in A llah s Cause
- Jihad, etcj) (Qur 'an 2: 3)
A man said to his "''ife:
"If you have prepared a meal, invite
A voracious e ater, for I cannot bear to eat by myself. "
Then he said to her, proclaiming his philosophy:
"N arne a generous person who di ed from being generous,
Or a miserly one who lived forever, and I will desist."
Don 't he angry 231

Don 't be angry

fAnd (fan evil whisper comes to you from Satan then seek re/uge with
A llah. Verily, He is A ll-Hearer, All-Knower ) (Qur 'an 7: 200)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) advised one of
his Companions, saying,
"Don 't be angry. . .
"

- He repeated this three times. And when a man became angry in his
presence, the Prophet ordered him to seek refuge in Allah from the
accursed Satan.
'And I seek refuge with You, My Lord! Lest they may attend [ar com e
near} me. ' (Qur 'an 23: 98)
Verily, those who are Al-Muttaqoon [the pious}, when an evil
thought comes to them from Satan, they remember [Allah], and
[indeed] they then see [aright}. (Qur 'an 7: 201)
Anger is one of the factors that cause depression and sadness.
The following are some of the ways of controlling your anger:
1 . Combat feelings of anger as if anger itself is your enemy.
Mnd those who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, A llah
loves the good-doers) (Qur 'an 3 : 1 3 4)
And when they are angry, they forgive) (Qur 'an 42: 3 7)
And when the anger of Moses was appeased, he took up the
Tablets. . . (Qur 'an 7: 1 54)
2. Make ablution. Since anger is an ember of the fire, it can be
extinguished by water.
3 . If you are standing, sit; and if you are sitting, lie down.
4. When you are angry, remain silent.
5. Remind yourself of the rewards of those who repress their anger
and of those who forgive.
232 Supplications of the morning

Supplications of the morning

If you say the supplications listed in this section on a daily basis,


they will help to bring you happiness, protect you from the devils of
mankind and jinn, and protect you for the remainder of your day,
until the coming evening.
" We have reaclzed the evening and at this very time unto
A llah belongs all sovereignty, and praise is for A llah.
None has the right to be worshipped but A llah alone,
without partner. To Him belongs all sovereignty and
praise and He is over all things omnipotent. My Lord, I
ask You for the good of this night and the good of what
follows it and I take refuge in You from the evil of this
n ight and the evil of what follows it. My Lord, I take
refuge in You from laziness and senility. My Lord, I take
refuge in you from the torment of the Fire and
punishment in the grave. "
"O ' A llah, by Your leave we have reached the morning
and by Your leave we have reached the evening, by Your
leave we live and die, and unto You is our resurrection. "
"O ' A llah, verily I have reached the morning and call
on You, the bearers af Your throne, Your angels, and all
of Your creation to witness that You are Allah - none
has the right to be worshipped except You alone,
without partner - and that Muhammad is Your Servant
and Messenge1: "
"! take refuge in Allah s perfect words from the evil He
has created. " (Three times)
"O ' A llah, Knower of the unseen and the seen, Creator
ofthe heavens and the Earth, Lord and Sovereign ofall
things, I bear witness that none has the right to be
Pause to refiect 233

worshipped except You. I take refuge in You from the


evil of my soul andfrom the evil and shirk (to associate
partners with Allah in worship) of the devil, and from
committing wrong against my soul or bringing the same
upon another Muslim. "
"How perfect is Allah, and I praise Him by the number
of His creation and His pleasure, and by the weight of
His throne and the ink of His words. "
"None has the right to be worshipped except A llah
alone, without partner. To Him belongs all sovereignty
and praise, and He is over all things omnipotent. "
" We rise upon the fitrah (i. e. the religio n of Islam, the
way of Prophet Ibraheem), and the word ofpure faith,
and upon the religion of our Prophet Muhammad and
the religion of our forefather lbraheem, who was a
Muslim oftrue faith and was not of those who associate
partners with Allah. "

Pause to reflect

Those who have knowledge about Allah agree that when you get
to the point of losing all hope, it means that A llah has entrusted to
you your own affairs. And when you have trust and hope i n A llah, it
means that Allah has guided you to goodnes s .
Allah ' s slaves are always swaying from the first state t o the
second. During the period of a single hour, one can have his share of
both. So he obeys Allah and pleases Him, he remembers H im and
thanks Him - and he is only able to do these through H i s help.
Shortly afterwards, though, he disobeys Allah, goes against His
commands, earns His anger, and is generally in a state of
forgetfulness - all because Allah has left him to himself. Therefore
234 The Qur 'an: The blessed hook

Allah 's slave is always oscillating between His divine care and
between being forsaken.
Whenever one o f Allah's slaves witnesses this phenomenon -
that of changing from one state to the ether - he should appreciate
the dubious nature o f his situation and his extreme need of being
guided by Allah in eYery breath he breathes and in every moment he
lives. His faith and belief are in Allah's hand. If Allah were to leave
him alone for even the blinking of an eye, his faith would plunge to
the ground. You should therefore realize that the One who is
protecting your faith is the One Who is preventing the sky from
falling to the earth.

The Qr'an: The blessed book

When you recite the Qur'an and contemplate its meanings, you
take a positive step toward achieving happiness. Allah described the
Qur' an as being guidance, light, and a cure for what is in the breasts
of men. H e also described it as being a Mercy.
There has come to you a good advice from your Lord [i. e. the
Qur 'an, ordering all that is good andforbidding all that is evil], and
a healing for that [disease of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and
differences, etc.] which is in your breasts." (Qur 'an JO: 57)
Do they not then think deeply in the Qur 'an, or are their hearts
locked up [from understanding it}? (Qur 'an 4 7: 24)
Do they not then consider the Qur 'an care.fully? Had it been from
other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much
contradiction. (Qur 'an 4: 82)
[This is} a Book [th e Qur 'an} which We have sent down to you, ful!
of bfessings that they may pander over its Verses. (Qur 'an 38: 29)
Reciting the Q ur an is blessed, as are acting upon it and turning
to it for judgment and guidance.
Don 't a.spire tofame" . 235

A righteous person (and many have had a similar experience)


once said:
"I felt that a cloud of depression and anxiety was hanging over
me. I picked up the Qur'an and I read i t for a period of time.
Then, by Allah, the depression and anxiety disappeared and
happiness along with tranquility took their place. "
Verily, this Qur 'an guides to that which is most just and right. . .
(Qur 'an 1 7: 9)
And thus We have sent to you [O ' Muhammad] Roo [an
Inspiration, and a Mercy] of our Command. ! (Qur 'an 42: 52)

Don 't aspire to farne, or else you will


be taxed with stress and worries

By seeking to be the center of attention and by trying to please


others, you lose both peace and stability in your life.
That home ofthe Hereafter [i. e. Paradise}, We shall assign to those
who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land
nor do mischief by committing crimes) (Qur 'an 28: 83)
A poet said:
"Whoever is satisfied in following and not leading, brings
serenity to his self,
And spends his nights peacefully.
Verily, when the wind blows strong and violently,
It only tosses about the high part of the tree. "
They stand ivith laziness and to be seen of men.
(Qur 'an 4: 1 42)
And those who love to be praised for what they have not done. . .
(Qur 'an 3: 1 88)
And he not like those who come out af their homes boas(fully and to
be seen of men . . !
. (Qur 'an 8: 4 7)
236 The good /(fe

A poet said:
"Transparent is the gown of the one who does deeds for show,
Even if he wraps it around himself, he remains naked. "

The good life

Everything that we discussed in previous chapters conceming


happiness can be summed up in the following: Have faith in Allah,
Lord of all that exists. All else that we mentioned hitherto is useless
and is of no benefit unless you have faith in Allah. Believing in Allah
as your Lord, in Muhammad as His Messenger and accepting Islam
as your religion - these must be your foundations.
Whoever works righ teousness, whether male orfemale, while he [or
she] is a true believer [ofIslamic Monotheism} verily, to him We will
give a good li.fe [in th is world with respect, contentment and lawful
provision}, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to
the hest of what they used to do [i.e. Paradise in the Hereafier}.
(Qur 'an 1 6: 97)
There are two conditions to gaining a good life: faith in Allah
and performing good deeds.
Verily, those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, the Most
Benejicent [Allah] will bestow love for them [in the hearts of the
believers}. (Qur 'an 1 9: 96)
The one who believes in Allah and does good deeds derives two
benefits:
1 . A good and prosp erous life in this world and in the Hereafter.
2 . A tremendous rew ard from Allah, the Exalted.
For them are glad tidings, in the life ofthe present world, and in the
Hereafier. (Qur 'an 1 0: 64)
Bear trials patient(v 23 7

Bear trials patiently

Don 't let hardships bother you excessively. The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Verily, if Allah loves a people, He makes them go
through trials. Whoever is satisfied, for him is
contentment, and whoever is angry, upon him is wrath. "

Worship Allah by surrendering your will to Him

Among the necessities or elements of faith (Al-Eemaan) is to be


contented with all that is decreed: both what is good and what is bad.
And certainly, We shall test you with something offear, hunger, loss
of wealth, lives andfruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones.
(Qur 'an 2: 155)
What is decreed for us is not always in harmony with our desires
and fancies. But then, we are not in a position t o give suggestions. On
the contrary, our right station and position is that of a worshipper,
who surrenders his will.
We are all tested according to the level of our faith. The Prophet
(Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"The pangs of death I feel are equa1 to what two of your
men feel . "
"The most severely tested of people are the Prophets
and then the righteous ones. "
Therefore be patient [O ' Muhammad} as did the Messengers of
strong will" . (Qur 'an 46: 35)
If Allah wants good for a person, He afflicts him.
t4 nd surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard [for
the Cause ofAllah} and the patient anes, and We shall test yourfacts
[i. e. the ane who is a liar, and the one who is truthjul} .
(Qur 'an 4 7: 3 1)
238 From being a governor to hecoming a carpenter

And We indeed tested those who were befare them. (Qur 'an 29: 3)

From being a governor to becoming a carpenter

'Al i ibn al-Maymoon al-'Abbassi was a governor and son of the


Caliph. H e lived a life of opulence in a large castle. Anything he
wanted in this world was easy for him.
One day, looking down from a balcony in the castle, he saw a
man to iling in the fie lds. On succeeding days, 'Ali paid more and
more attention to the man and witnessed that he always worked
straight through the moming, after which, he would take a break,
make ablution from a stream, and pray two units of prayer. Only
when the evening came would he quit his work and go home to his
family. To leam more about him, 'Ali invited him one day and asked
him many questions. He soon leamed that the worker had a wife, two
sisters, and a mother that were all under his care, and it was for their
sake that he toiled so assiduously. H e fasted everyday and when
nightfall came, he would break his fast from what he had reaped
during the day. 'Ali asked, "And do you have any cause to
complain?" H e answered, "No, All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all
that exists. "
S o impressed was he by the simple laborer, that 'Ali quit the
castle, resigned from his position, and traveled abroad. H e was found
dead years later in the vicinity of Kharasan. After leaving the castle,
he worked as a carpenter, and he found happiness in his new life,
happiness that was foreign to him in his former one.
f While as for those who accept guidance, He increases their
guidance, and bestows on them their piety. (Qur 'an 47: 1 7)
This narrative reminds me ofthe story of the people of the Cave.
They were in a cast l e with the king, yet they felt constricted,
confused, and troubled. The li fe of opulence, for the most part, is one
Mixing with people whose company is heavy . " 239

wherein disbelief and extravagance reign. And so they departed. One


of them said:
Then seek refuge in the Cave, your Lord will open a way for you
from His Mercy and will make easyfor you your af/air [i. e. will give
you what you will need ofprovision, dwelling, etc.}. (Qur 'an 18: 1 6)

Miring with people whose company is


heavy and dull ruins a person's peace

Books written by eminent Islamic scholars are replete with


sayings that indicate an aversion to people who are referred to as
being thaqeel, which means burdensome. They are a people whose
company is unbearable. Imam AQ.mad said that they are the people of
innovation. Some have said that they are the foolish ones in society,
and others have stated that they are people with coarse personalities,
or that they are people of cold and colorless character.
They are as blocks of wood propped up. (Qur 'an 63: 4)
So what is wrong with these people that they fail to understand any
word? (Qur 'an 4: 78)
Imam Ash-Shafi'ee said:
"When a dull person comes to sit with me, I begin to feel that
the earth beneath him is sinking from the heaviness of his
company. "
Al-A ' mash, upon seeing this kind of person, would recite:
t 'Our Lord! Remove the forment from us, really we shall become
believers ! ' (Qur 'an 44: 1 2)
Allah, the Almighty, said:
And when you see those who engage in a false conversation about
Our Verses [of the Qur 'an} by mocking at them, stay awaJ' from
them ... (Qur 'an 6: 68)
... then sit not with them") (Qur 'an 4: 140)
240 For the calamity-stricken

People who are devoid of virtues, who have low aims, and who
easily succumb to their desires are among the most unbearable of
people to share company with.
Then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that;
[but (fyou stayed with themJ certainly in that case you would be like
them) (Qur 'an 4: 140)
A poet said:
"Your company upon me is heavy, heavy, heavy,
You are in appearance a man yet an elephant in the scale ofbad
company. "
lbn al-Qayyim said:
"If you are forced to converse with someone who is
unbearable, lend him your body and deny him your spirit, and
travel away with your soul. Lend hiin a deaf ear and a blind
eye until A llah makes a way for you to part from his company. "
t4 nd obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our
Remembrance, one i1 ho follows his own lusts and whose affair
[deedsj has been lost) (Qur 'an 18: 28)

For the calamity-stricken

In an authentic hadith , the Prophet (bpuh) related that Allah said:


"When I have taken away from someone a most beloved
one [to him], and then he [patiently] expects a reward
[from Me ] , I will compensate him with Paradise. "
In another authentic h adith, the Prophet related that Allah said:
"Whoever I have tested in his two beloved ones -
meaning his eyes [by taking away his sight] - I will
compensate him for them with Paradise. "
Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are
in the breasts tha t grow blind) (Qur 'an 22: 46)
For the calarnity-stricken 241

In an authentic hadith related by Tirmidhi, the Prophet (Blessings and


Peace be upon him) said:
"Verily, when Allah takes away the son of one of His
believing slaves, He says to the angels: ' Have you taken
the son of my believing slave?' They ans wer, 'Yes.' H e
then says, 'You took (away) the fruit ofhis heart?' They
answer, 'Yes. ' Allah says, 'What did My slave say ? '
They answer, ' He praised you and said: Verily, to Allah
do we all belong, and to Him is our return. ' A llah orders
them, 'Build for My slave a house in Paradise, and call
it the house of Praise. "'
Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in ful!,
without reckoning. (Qur 'an 3 9: J O)
Salaamun 'Alaykum [peace be upon you] for that you persevered in
patience! (Qur 'an 1 3 : 24)
Our Lord! Pour forth on us patience) (Qur 'an 2 : 250)
And endure you patiently [O ' Muhammad}; your patience is not but
from A llah) (Qur 'an 1 6: 1 2 7)
So be patient [O ' Muhammad}. Verily, the Promise ofAllah is true.
(Qur 'an 30: 60)
The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Verily, the greatness of reward is proportionate to the
greatness of the test. And indeed, if A llah loves a
people, He tests them. Whoever is contented, for him is
pleasure, and whoever is angry, upon him is wrath. "
Patience, preordainment, and reward from A llah are important
issues to be considered when calamity strikes. And we should know
that the One Who took away is the One Who gave in the first place.
Verily! A llah commands that you should render back the trusts to
those, to whom they are due) (Qur 'an 4: 58)
A poet said:
242 The positive effecrs of having true Monotheistic . . .

"Wealth and family are only loans for a period,


And the day must come when a loan is retumed. "

The positive ejfects of having true


Monotheistic faith in Allah

Only when you are the victim of some wrongdoing do certain


p ositive effects of lslamic Monotheism become manifest in your li fe.
When others hurt you, remember that having faith in Allah, the
Exalted, will help you in many ways :
I B y having a strong faith in Allah, you will forgive the one who
.

transgresses against you. B etter yet is to have good wishes for that
same person. And the highest and best level - higher than simply
forgiving him or simply wishing him well - is to benefit or help him
in some way. The first stage of forgiveness is to repress your anger,
which means that you don't reciprocate injury with inj ury. Then
comes actual forgiveness, which rneans to pardon and to discard any
feelings of ill will. And then finally cornes doing good, or in other
words, to recompense the harm that was acted out on you with a good
deed or a show of k indness.
Those who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, A llah loves
the good-doers. (Qur 'an 3: 134)
But whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due
from A llah) (Qur 'an 42: 40)
!Let them pardon and forgive) (Qur 'an 24: 22)
And it i s reported that the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Verily, A llah has ordered rne to join (seek to make
relations amicable) with the one who has cut me off, to
forgive the one who wronged me, and to give to the one
who refused me. "
2 . You will develop a stronger faith in preordainrnent. In other words,
The positive e.flects <{ having true At/ onotheistic. . . 243

you will realize that the person who inj ured you only did so based o n
Allah 's preordainment and decree.
People are only means, but the One Who decrees and decides is
Allah, so surrender your will to Him.
3. You will realize that the harm that was perpetrated against you was
atonement for your sins and can result in an increase in ranking with
Allah.
So those who emigrated and were driven outfiom their homes, and
suffered harm in My Cause, and whofought, and were killed {In My
Causej, verily, I will remit from them their evil deeds . . .

(Qur 'an 3: 1 95)


The believers are able to perceive that putting out the fire of
enmity is a wise course to follow in life:
Repel [the evil] with one which is better [i. e. A llah ordered the
faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse
those who treat them badly), then verily! He, b etween whom and you
there was enmity, {will become] as though he was a close friend)
(Qur 'an 4 1 : 34)
"The Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand other
Muslims are safe. "
The meaning of the previous verse is that you should repay the
one who harms you with a pleasant face and gentle words. Thus you
will be able to extinguish the fire of hatred from his heart.
And say to My slaves [i.e. the true believers oflslamic Monotheism)
that they should [only] say those words that are the hest. [Because]
Satan verily, sows disagreements among them) (Qur 'an 1 7: 53)
4. You will come to know your shortcomings. Or in other words, you
will be aware ofthe faet that a person was afforded the opportunity to
ha1m you because of your own sins.
[What is the matter with you?] When a single disaster smiles you,
although you smote [your enemies) with one nvice as great, you say:
244 The p ositive e..fef cts <lhaving true Monotheistfr."

'From where does this come to us ? ' Say [to them], 'It is from
_vourselves [because of your evil deeds}. (Qur 'an 3: 1 65)
!And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because af what your
hands have earned. J (Qur 'an 42: 30)
5. When you are wronged, praise and thank Allah for making you the
oppressed one and not the oppressor. Some of our pious predecessors
used to say:
"O' Allah, make me to be the oppressed one and not the
oppressor. "
This tone is similar to that of the worthier of Adam 's two sons
when he said to the other:
'{f you do stretch your hand against me to kil! me, I shall never
stretch my hand against you to kil! you, for Ifear A llah,- the Lord of
the 'A alameen [mankind, jinns, and all that exists}. (Qur 'an 5: 28)
6. You should show mercy to the one who hurt you. He is deserving
of your pity and mercy. His persistence in doing bad and in openly
challenging Allah 's commandment of not hurting a Muslim makes
him a worthy recipient of your gentleness and mercy. Perhaps you
can save him from his downfall. The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is
oppressed. "
When Mistal_l hanned Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with
him) by tainting his and his daughter 'Aa'ishah's honour, Abu Bakr
vowed to cut off any further support for him. Prior to that, Abu B akr
would spend on M istal_l and support him because he was poor.
Forthwith, Allah sent down this verse:
And let not those a mong you who are blessed with graces and
wealth swear not to give [any sort of help] to their kinsmen, A l
Masaakeen [the po01j, and those who lefl their homes for Allah s
Cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that A llah
should forgive you ?i (Qur 'an 24: 22)
The p osit ive </fects qf'having true i\! onotheistic. .. 245

Abu Bakr said, "Yes, I do love that Allah should forgive me. "
He then resumed spending on Mistal:i, and h e also forgave him.
' Uyainah ibn J)asan said to ' Umar (may Allah be pleased with
him), "O' 'Umar, what is this? By Allah. you don't give us
generously and you don't judge justly between us. " ' Umar moved
towards him when Al-J)urr ibn Qays said, "O' leader of the faithful,
Allah says:
Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the
foolish [i. e. don 't punish them}. (Qur 'an 7: 1 99) "
Al-I:Iurr later said:
"By Allah, 'Umar did not go beyond the bounds of this verse.
And he always stopped (without transgressing the limits set by
Allah) and followed what is in the Book of Allah. "
Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) said to his brothers:
'No reproach on you this day, may A llah forgive you, and He is the
Most Merciful of those who show mercy! (Qur 'an 12: 92)

When the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) retumed to Makkah


victorious, he saw the faces of those that hurt h im, expelled him, and
then waged war on him from the disbelievers of Quraysh. He
announced to them:
"Go forth, for you are the freed ones . . ,

He said in another hadith:


"The strong one is not he who is strong in combat.
Verily, the strong one is he who control s himself when
he is angry. "
A poet said:
"If you are in the company of a loving people,
Treat them with the softness of a loving relative,
And don't take people to account for all of their mistakes,
So as not to stay companionless throughout your li fe. "
Some have said that in the Injeel (Gospel), i t is written:
246 Tak e care o{your outside as 1rell as ofyour inside

" Forgive seven times the one who wronged you once."
This means that when someone wrongs you one time, repeat
your forgiveness of him seven times in order to keep your religion
safe and your heart c lean. Desiring revenge will only subtract from
your nerves, sleep, stability, and peace, while taking nothing away
from others.
But whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due
from A llah. (Qur 'an 42: 40)
The Indians say in one of their proverbs:
"The one who overcomes his own self is more brave than the
one who conquers a city. "
Verily, the [human} self is inclined to evil.. ) (Qur 'an 12: 53)

Take care of your outside as well as of your inside

A person who has a pure soul cares about wearing clean clothes.
Some wise peopl e have even said:
"When one's garment becomes soiled, his soul will follow
suit. "
The root of vexation for many people is in being neither neat nor
organized nor punctual; for others, it is in having bad hygiene, dirty
clothes, or a sloppy appearance.
The universe is based on order. In faet, to truly understand the
depth and wisdom of our religion, one should appreciate that it came
to organize our lives in both small and large matters. Everything with
A llah is according to a measure. Tirmidhi related the following hadith:
"Verily, Allah i s beautiful and He loves beauty. "
Imam Bukhari related the foliowing hadith in his Safleefl:
"It is a right ( incumbent) upon a Muslim to take a
shower at least one day out of every seven. In it, he
washes his head and his body. "
Take u1re (fyour outside as well as qf'your ins ide 24 7

This is the least that can be expected. Some of our p10us


predecessors would take a shower once a day, as has been transmitted
to us about 'Uthmaan ibn 'Affaan (may Allah be pleased with him).
This is a spring ofwater to wash in, cool and a {refreshing] drink. }
(Qur 'an 38: 42)
Growing a beard, trimming one's moustache, cutting one's nails,
brushing one's teeth, using perfume, washing one's clothes, and
generally taking care of one's outward appearance - these are all
acts that are intrinsic to man. Performing these acts of hygiene makes
one feel comfortable and good. It is also recommended to wear white,
for the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said,
"Wear white and use it as a shroud for your dead. "
You should organize your appointments in a small journal or
notebook, allocating time to read, to worship, to exercise, and so on.
[For} each and every matter there is a Decree [from A llah}.
(Qur 'an 13: 38)
And there is not a thing, but with Us are the stores thereof And We
send it not down except in a known measure) (Qur 'an 15: 2 1)
In the library of congress hangs a large placard and written on it
are the words, "The Universe is Based on Order" . This is true, for the
divinely revealed Religion calls for order, organization, and hannony
in action.
Allah informed us that the affairs of the universe are not based
on play and frivolity, but are by preordainment, decree,
measurement, and organization.
The sun and the moon run on their fixed courses {exactv}
calculated with measured out stages for each [for reckoning, etc.}. i
(Qur 'an 55: 5)
It is notfor the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip
the day. They all .float, each in an orbit) (Qur 'an 36: 40)
248 Seek refuge H' ith A llah

And the moon, We have measuredfor it mansions [to travers ej til! it


returns like the old dried curved date stalk) (Qur 'an 36: 39)
nd We have appointed the night and the day as two Aayaat [signs
etc.}. Then, We have made dark the sign of the night while We have
made the sign of day illuminating, that you may seek bounty from
your Lord, and that _i ou may know the number af the years and the
reckoning. And We have explained everything [in detail} with ful!
explanation) (Qur 'an 1 7: 12)
'Our Lord! You have not created [all} this without purpose, glory be
to You! ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 91)
We created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between
themfor a [mere} play. Had We intended to take a pastime [i.e. a wife
or a son, etc.}, We could surely have taken it from Us, (( We were
going to do [thatj) (Qur 'an 21: 1 6-1 7)
t4nd Say [O ' Muhammad}: 'Do Deeds! ' (Qur 'an 9: 1 05)
When a mentally sick patient would be brought to the sages of
Greece for treatment, they would force him to work in farming and in
gardens. Only a short time would pass before he would return to
health.
Tradesmen who work with their hands are, as a class, more
happy, easygoing, and calm than others. I f you observe laborers, you
will notice strength of body and peace of mind. Both of these are
consequences of a satisfaction that comes with movement, exercise,
and work.
"And I seek reji,ge in You (Allah) from incapability and
laziness. "

Seek refuge with Allah

Allah: the Great and Glorious name. Going back to the root of
the word, we leam a s pecial meaning. Some say that the name Allah
I place my complete trust in Him 249

comes from the root A-La-Ha. This means the one who1n the hearts
of people love, find peace in, are happy with, tum to, and accept as
their God. Also, it is impossible for the heart to find peace or comfort
with other than Him. For this reason, Faa!imah (may Allah b e pleased
with her) taught her daughter the supplication of the one who is in
distress:
"Allah, Allah, My Lord, I do not associate any partners with
H im . "
Say: 'Allah [sent it down} '. Then leave them to play in their vain
discussions. (Qur 'an 6: 91)
And He is the Irresistible, above His slaves . . ) (Qur 'an 6: 1 8)
Allah is very Gracious and Kind to His slaves) (Qur 'an 42: 1 9)
They made not a just estimate ofA llah such as is due to Him. And on
the Day afResurrection the whole ofthe earth will be grasped by His
Hand and the heavens will be ro/led up in His Right Hand. Glorified
be He, and High is He above all that they associate as partners with
Himl (Qur 'an 39: 6 7)
tf.And [remember} the Day when We shall roll up the heavens like a
scroll ro/led up for books. . ) (Qur 'an 2 1 : 1 04)
Verily! Allah grasps the heavens and the earth lest they should mave
away from their places) (Qur 'an 35: 41)

I place my complete trust in Him

Always tuming to Allah, placing one's trust in H im, and being


satisfied with His care and protection - these are among the most
important of factors that bring happiness to the believer.
Do you know of any who is similar to Him ? [of course none is
similar or co-equal or comparable to Him, and He has none as
partner with Him}. [There is nothing like Him and He is the A ll
Hearer, the A ll-Seer}. (Qur 'an 1 9: 65)
250 The_v agree on three points

'Veriv. my Wali [Protector, Supporter, and Helper. etc.} is Allah


Who has revealed the Book [the Qur 'an}, and He protects [support.'>
and helpsJ the righteous. ' (Qur 'an 7: 1 96)
No doubt! Verily, the Auliya ofA llah [i. e. those who believe in the
Oneness o./Allah andfear Allah much (abstain from all kinds ofsins
and evil deeds which He has forbidden), and love A llah much
(per/orm all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)}, no fear
shall come upon them nor shall they grieve. (Qur 'an 10: 62)

They agree on three points

After steeping myself in books that deal with anxiety and mental
ailments, I found that Muslim scholars agree upon three
fundamentals for one who seeks a cure:
1 . One should have a close relationship with Allah, by worshipping
H im, being obedient t o Him, and turning to Him when in hardship or
in ease. And this is the paramount issue in faith:
So worship Him [Alone} and be constant and patient in His
worship. Do you know ofany who is similar to Him ? [ofcourse none
is similar or co-equal ar comparable to Him, and He has none as
partner with Him}. [There is nothing like unto Him and He is the All
Hearer, the A ll-Seer} . (Qur 'an 1 9: 65)
2 . One must cl ose the files of the past. Episodes of the past, which
when recalled only induce pain, should be forgotten and eradicated
from one's memory. Thus, a new life for a new day!
3 . One should leave the future alone. Whatever has yet to occur is
from the world of the unseen. Therefore it should be left alone until it
comes. More particularly, one should avoid being preoccupied with
predictions, expectations, and apprehensions. Life should be Iived
within the boundaries of today.
'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
The 1rrongdoing of the transgressor 25 1

"Beware of having long-term expectations (for this world), for


verily it makes one forget (his true purpose) ."

Mnd they thought that they would never return to Us)


(Qur 'an 28: 3 9)
Beware of believing in superstitions and rumors:
They think that evef}' cry is against them) (Qur 'an 63: 4)
I know people who for years now have been waiting for
predictions of disaster and calamity to come true, predictions that, at
least until now, have not materialized. They are putting fear into their
own hearts and the hearts of others (How perfect is Allah ! ) . Leading
such a life is pathetic and deplorable. The example of these people is
that of the tortured prisoner in China, whose captors p lace him under
a tap, releasing from it a drop of water every minute. The prisoner
desperately waits for each drop until he loses his mind. Allah
described the people of the fire in the following verses:
Neither it will have a complete killing effect on them so that they die,
nor shall its forment be lightened for them) (Qur 'an 35: 3 6)
Wherein he will neither die [to be in rest} nor live [a good living}.
(Qur 'an 87: 1 3)
As aften as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them
for other skins that they may taste the punishment) (Qur 'an 4: 5 6)

The wrongdoing of the transgressor

"To judgment is our destination on the Day of Gathering,


And in front of Allah will be gathered all adversaries. "
Sufficient justice and retribution for the believer is that he waits
for the day wherein Allah will gather the first and the last ( of
creation). The judge on that day will be Allah and the witnesses will
be the angels:
252 Khosrau and the old ladv

And We shall set up balances ojjustice on the Day ofResurrection,


then none will be dealt with unjust(y in anything. And f there he the
weight ofa mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We as
Reckoners) (Qur 'an 21: 4 7)

Khosrau and the old lady

Buzrjamhar, the w ise man of Persia, related the story of Khosrau


the king and the old l ady. The latter possessed a chicken and a small
hut, which was situated on a small plot of land that neighbored the
palace of Khosrau. One day, she had to travel to another village, and
befare departing she prayed, "O' my Lord, I entrust my chicken to
You . " During her absence, Khosrau usurped her property in arder to
expand the gardens o f his palace. His army slaughtered the chicken
and destroyed the cottage. When she retumed and discovered the
deplorable aet, she tumed her gaze to the sky and said, "O' my Lord, I
was absent and where were You?" Then Allah granted revenge for
her. It came to pass that the son of Khosrau attacked his father with a
knife and killed him.
Is not A llah Sufficien t.for His slave? Yet they try tofrighten you with
those [whom they worship} besides Himl And whom Allah sends
astray, for him there will be no guide. !' (Qur 'an 39: 36)
Wou ld that we were all like the worthier of Adam's sons, who
said to the other:
Vl you do stretch your hand against me to kil! me, I shall never
stretch my hand against you to kill you. . ) (Qur 'an 5: 28)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
'"Be the slave o f Allah, the murdered, and not the slave
of Allah, the n1urderer. "
The Muslim has a mission and a message that are more
important than revenge, malice, and hate.
A handicap in one area can he compensated. . . 253

A handicap in one area can be compensated


for l>y excellence in another

Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you)
(Qur 'an 24: Il)
Most people who are remembered today for their greatness had
to overcome many obstacles on their path: their perseverance was
akin to obstinacy. They felt a weakness in one faculty or area that
required compensation in another. Many great scholars of Islam were
actually freed slaves, such as 'A!aa, Sa'eed ibn Jubayr, Qatada,
Bukhari, Tirmidhi and Abu J:Ianifah.
Many Islamic scholars, who in the vastness of their knowledge
were like oceans, were affli cted with blindness - Ibn ' Abbaas (may
Allah be pleased with him), Qatada, Ibn Umm Maktoom (may Allah
be pleased with him), Al-A 'amash and Yazeed ibn H aroon, to
mention only a few.
Among contemporary scholars, Shaykh Muhammad ibn
lbraheem Aal-Shaykh, Shaykh 'Abdullah ibn Bumayd, and Shaykh
Ibn Baaz are all blind.
Many great scholars were handicapped in one way or another.
Some were blind, others were deaf, and yet others were bereft of a
limb, and so on. Yet despite these handicaps, they influenced
generations to come after them, and they were able to contribute to
mankind.
. "He will give you a light by which you shall walk [straight} " )
(Qur 'an 5 7: 28)
A diploma from a prestigious University i s not everything. D o
not b e down or despondent because you weren't able to eam a
University degree. Even without a diploma in your band, you can still
shine and contribute greatly to mankind. There are many famous and
eminent people who do not have degrees. They made their way in life
254 A handicap in one area can be compensated. . .

and overcame insunnountable obstacles with an iron will and a


strong determination . Speaking of present day Islamic scholars, there
are many prominent ones without degrees. Shaykh Ibn Baaz, Malik
ibn Nabi, Al-'Aqqad, At-Tantawi, Abi-Zahrah, Al-Mawdoodi, An
Nadawi all come to mind as examples, yet there are many more.
On the other h and, there are thousands of holders of Ph.D.
degrees in the Islamic world who remain obscure and who have had
no impact on society.
Can you [O ' Muhammad} find a single ane af them or hear even a
whisper of them ? (Qur 'an 1 9: 98)
You have a great treasure with you ifyou are of the type who is
c ontented with any situation. The Prophet (bpuh) said in an authentic
hadith:
"Be contented with what Allah has apportioned for you
and you will be the richest of people. "
Be contented with your family, your income, your car, and your
job. If you are contented with all of these, then you will have found
happiness and p eace . And in another authentic hadith, the Prophet
(bpuh) said:
"Richness is the richness of the soul. "
H e (bpuh) also said:
"O' A llah, make his wealth be in his heart. "
A man related that he once entered a taxi at the airport and
ordered the driver to take him to the city. He said, "I noticed that the
driver was happy and good-humored. He would constantly praise
Allah, thank Him, and remember Him. I asked him about his family
and he said that he was the breadwinner for two families. Meanwhile,
his monthly salary was a paltry sum of 800 riyals, and he and his
family had to live in a run-down building. Yet, his mind was at peace
because he was thankful for what Allah had allotted for him. "
A handicap in one area can be compensated" . 255

The narrator then went on to say, "I felt amazed when I


compared this man to others who lead a life of affiuence - with
money, luxury cars, and large mansions. In spite of such opulence,
they live such miserable lives, and upon reflection, I realized that
happiness is not in wealth . "
I knew a tycoon who had hundreds o f millions and a number o f
mansions. H e was miserable i n his relationships, always seething
with anger and always brooding in a state of depression. He <lied
estranged from his family, and he went through all of this misery
because he was not satisfied with what Allah gave him.
}ter all that he desires - that I should give more; Nay! Verily, he
has been stubhorn and opposing Our Aayaat [proofs, evidences,
verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.}. (Qur 'an 74: 1 5- 1 6)
Centuries ago in Arabia, one would find peace by isolating
himself in the desert. In the desert and far away from human activity,
a poet said:
"The whine of the fox, I 've developed a liking for it,
Then I heard the voice of a man and I almost flew away (from
contempt for it) . "
Sufyan ath-Thawri said:
"I long to be in an obscure valley without anyone knowing
me. "
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon h im) said i n a hadith:
"The time is near when the best wealth o f a Muslim will
. be sheep, with which he follows the places of rain and
the paths of mountains; he will be fleeing with his
religion from trials."
In times of tribulation (i.e. the struggles of Muslims among
themselves), the safest option for a Muslim is to run away from them.
When 'Uthmaan was wrongfully murdered, lbn 'Umar, Usaamah ibn
Zayd, and Muhammad ibn Muslimah all stayed away from ensuing
256 A handicap in ane area can he compensated. . .

trials, may Allah be pleased with them all.


I know people \vho have been afflicted with poverty, misery, and
depression. I n the case of every one of them, the' cause of their
downfall was that they were far away from Allah. You will find that
one of them was rich, comfortable, and in a state of good health from
his Lord. But then h e tumed away from the obedience of Allah. He
was negligent in p erforming his prayers and he began to commit
maj or sins. S o Allah . the Almighty, took away his health and wealth
and replaced them with the hardship of poverty, worry, and anxiety.
H e went from misery to misery, from low-point to a point that was
even lower.
But whosoever turns away from My Reminder [i. e. neither believes
in this Qur 'an nor acts an its orders, etc.} verily, for him is a life of
hardsh ip . . . (Qur 'an 20: 124)
That is so because A llah will never change a grace which He has
bestowed on a people until they change what is in their ownselves)
(Qur 'an 8: 53)
And whatever of m isfortune befalls you, it is because of what your
hands have earned. And He pardans much. (Qur 'an 42: 30)
If they [non-Muslims} had believed in A llah, and went an the Right
Way [i.e. Islam} We should surely have bestowed on them water
[rain} in abundance) (Qur 'an 72: 16)
If I were able to perform a miracle, I would remove offyou your
troubles and grief; however, being bereft of the abi li ty thereof, I will
suffice by prescribing for you a medical prescription that is given by
the scholars of Islam. It is to worship the Creator (without associating
any partner with H im in worship), to be contented with your
provision, to be abstemious, and to decrease the level of your
expectations for this life.
The famous American psychologist, William James, spoke these
words that caught my attention:
A few lvords abvut thefoolish 257

"We, humankind, brood over what we don 't own and we don 't
thank God for what we do own. We always dwel l on the tragic
and dark side of our lives, and we don 't look at the brighter
side of our existence. We rue over what is missing in our lives
and we are not happy with what is there. "
Ifyou give thanks [by accepting Faith and worshipping none but
A llah}, I will give you more [of My Blessings]. . ) (Qur 'an 14: 7)
The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) supplicated:
"And I seek refuge in A llah from a soul that is
insatiable. "
When one 's main concem becomes the Hereafter, Allah will
make things well for him, and will make ric hness to dwell in his
heart. And the world will come to him despite its unwillingness. And
when one 's main concem becomes this world, Allah will scatter his
affairs and will place poverty between his eyes; also, the world will
not come to him, except what was written for him.
Ifyou were to ask them: 'Who has created the heavens and the earth
and subjected the sun and the moon ? ' They will surely reply: 'Allah '.
How then are they deviating [as polytheists and disbelievers]?
(Qur 'an 29:61)

A few words about the foolish

In the magazine Ar-Risaalah I found an interesting article on


Communism, written by Zayyaat. The Russians sent a spacecraft to
outer space and after it retumed, one oftheir astronauts was quoted i n
Pravda as saying,
"We ascended to the sky and we found no god there, no
paradise, no hell, and no angels. "
In response, Zayyaat wrote,
258 A few 1rords about the foolish

"Truly amazing you are, O' red fools. Do you think that you
will see Allah on His throne in the open? Do you have the
temerity to think that you will see the maidens of Paradise
walking around in silk? Or that you will hear the flowing ofA l
Kawthar ( a river in Paradise)? Or that you will smell the
stench of those being punished in the Fire? Ifyou truly thought
this, then your loss and failure is open for all to see. All that I
can think of to explain your misguidance, wandering, and
foolishness is the communism and atheism in your heads.
Communism is a day without a tomorrow, a ground without a
sky, work without an end, and a constant toiling without
results" . "
Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are
only like cattle; - nay, they are even farther astray from the Path
[i. e. even worse than cattlej) (Qur 'an 25: 44)
They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes
wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not
[the truthj) (Qur 'an 7: 1 79)
And whomsoever A llah disgraces, none can honor him.
(Qur 'an 22: 18)
Their deeds are like a mirage in a desert. (Qur 'an 24: 39)
. . . their works are as ashes, on which the wind blows furiously on a
stormy day" ) (Qur 'an 14: 1 8)
In A Religion of Defects, Al-'Aqqaad inveighed against
communism and its false premise of atheism:
"The soul that is intrinsically sound accepts this true Religion
of Islam. As for those whose minds are crippled, or who have
base and shortsighted ideas, it is plausible for them to be
atheists. "
1 Their hearts are sealed up [from all kinds af goodness and right
guidance}, so they understand not. (Qur 'an 9: 87)
Faith in A llah is the wa v to salvation 259

Atheism is a deathblow to one 's thinking. It is an idea that is as


farfetched as any imaginary world that a child is able to conjure up
and it is an error unsurpassed in the annals of errors. That is why
Allah, the Exalted, says:
What! Can there be a doubt about A llah, the Creator ofthe heavens
and the earth ? (Qur 'an 14: 1 0)
Ibn Taymiyah said,
"The Creator's existence has not been openly denied by
anyone except Fir'aun, and even he recognized Him on the
inside. That is why Prophet Moosa (Moses) said:
Moses said: 'Verily, you know that these signs have been sent down
by none but the Lord ofthe heavens and the earth as clear [evidences
i.e. proofs ofAllah s Oneness and His Omnipotence, etc.}. And I think
you are, indeed, 0 ' Fir 'aun [Pharaoh} doomed to destruction [away
from all good} ! (Qur 'an 1 7: 1 02)
Fir'aun proclaimed the foliowing at the very end (when it was
too late) revealing what was in his heart:
,

He said: 'I believe that none has the right to be worshipped but He,
in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am ane ofthe Muslims
[those who submit to Allah s Will}. (Qur 'an 1 0: 90)

Faith in Allah is the way to salvation

Mnd my af/air I leave it to A llah) (Qur 'an 40: 44)


No calamity befalls, but with the Leave [i. e. decision and Divine
Pre-ordainments} of A llah, and whosoever believes in A llah, He
guides his heart [to the true faith with certainty]. . .
(Qur 'an 64: 11)
Allah guides the heart of one who recognizes that a calamity is
by pre-ordainment and decree.
260 Faith in A llah is the \\'av to sa/i>ation

He releases them from their heavy burdens [of A llah s Covenant},


and from the fetters [bindings} that were upon them.
(Qur 'an 7: 15 7)
Some eminent western writers - such as Kersey Meerson,
Alexis Carlyle and Dale Carnegie - readily admit that the savoir of
the material-minded. declining West is a belief in Allah. They
propound the view that the reason behind the increasingly alanning
phenomenon of suicide in the west is atheism and a lack of faith in
Allah, Lord of all that exists.
f:! Those 1-vho wander astray from the Path af A llah [shall] have a
severe forment, beca use they forgot the Day of Reckoning.
(Qur 'an 38: 26)
And whoever assigns partners to A llah, it is as ifhe had fallen from
the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him
to a far o.ff place) (Qur 'an 22: 31)
In a 1 994 edition of Ash-Sharq al-Aw 'sat, an interview with
President George Bush 's wife was printed. In it she admits to having
made more than one attempt at suicide. One attempt was made by the
method of choking herself and another was to drive a car over a cliff.
Quzmaan was at the battle of Ul:md, fighting on the side of the
Muslims. He fought intrepidly and fiercely. The people exclaimed,
"For him is the b liss of Paradise." The Prophet (bpuh) said,
"Verily, H e is from the dwellers of the fire ! "
- Why? Because when his wounds were serious, instead of being
patient, he took his own life with his sword.
Those whose e.fforts have been wasted in this !(fe while they thought
that the_v were acquiring good by their deeds! (Qur 'an 18: 1 04)
'But whosoever turns awayfrom M_v Reminder [i. e. neither believes
in this Qur 'an nor acts on its orders, etc.} veri(v, for him is a l(fe of
hardship, and We shal! raise him up blind on the Day of
Resurrection. (Qur 'an 20: 124)
Even the disbelievers are at different leve/s 26 J

A Muslim does not take the path of suicide, no matter how


severe the hardship. Two units of prayer that are performed with
humility and presence of mind after making ablution will guarantee
the banishment of anxiety and wony from your life.
So bear patient(v what they say, and glorfy the praises ofyour Lord
befare the rising ofthe sun, and befare its setting, and during same of
the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day [an indication for
the five compulsory congregational prayers}, that you may become
pleased with the reward which A llah shall give you)
(Qur 'an 2 0: 1 3 0)
In the Qur'an there is a cogent and powerful question for the
misguided ones:
What is the matter with them, that they believe not?
(Qur 'an 84: 20)
What is it that makes them swerve away from belief, while the
proofs and signs are clear?
We will show them Dur Signs in the universe, and in their own
se/ves, until it becomes manfest to them that th is [the Qur 'an} is the
truth) (Qur 'an 4 1 : 53)
Mnd whosoever submits his face [himse?/J to A llah, while he is a
good-doer, then he has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold
[none has the right to be worshipped except A llah].
(Qur 'an 3 1 : 22)

Even the disbelievers are at dijferent levels

In George Bush 's memoirs, Moving Ahead. he mentioned that he


had attended the funeral of Brezhnev, the President of the Soviet
Union. Bush said, "I found the funeral to be dark and morbid; it was
devoid of faith and spirit. " He said this because he is Christian and
they are atheists.
262 Even the disbelievers are at d(f
ferent levels

And you willjind the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims} those
who say: ' We are Christians. ' (Qur 'an 5: 82)
Observe that although he is misguided, he was able to discem
their falsehood. Thus , the matter becomes relative. How matters
woul d have been different had he known Islam, the true religion of
Allah!
t4nd whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be
accepted af him, and in the Hereafter he will be ane of the lasers)
(Qur 'an 3: 85)
This incident brought to my mind a saying of lbn Taymiyah. He
was speaking to a member of a deviant Sufi sect. The man said to Ibn
Taymiyah, "Why is it that when we come to you (the people of the
Sunnah), our miracles lose their effect and become useless? But,
when we go to the Mongolian disbelieving Tartars, our miracles
work?" Ibn Taymiyah said,
"Do you know what the example ofyou, the Tartars, and us is?
As for us, we are white horses. You are spotted horses, and the
Tartars are black ones. When the spotted one enters upon a
throng of black, he appears to be white. And when he enters
upon a crowd of white, he appears to be black. Now, you have
some remnants of light, and when you mix with the people of
disbelief, that l i ght becomes visible. But when you come to us,
the people of the Sunnah who have the greater light, your
blackness and darkness is all that is left for you. And this is the
example of you, the Tartars, and us."
Andfor those whosefaces will become white, they will be in Allah s
Mercy [Paradise}, therein they shall dwell forever )
(Qur 'an 3: 1 0 7)
An iron 1rill 263

An iron will

A student from a Muslim country went to London to study. H e


boarded with a British family i n order to enhance his language skills.
He was true to his religious principles and would wake up for the
Moming Prayer early. He would make his ablution, go to his place of
prayer, prostrate to his Lord, glorify H im, and praise Him. An old
lady in the house was always keen to observe his foreign habits. She
asked him after a few days, "What are you doing?" "My religion
orders me to do this," was his reply. "Couldn't you delay saying this
prayer until after you get your complete rest? " He answered, "But
my Lord does not accept from me my prayer if I delay it until after its
fixed time period. " She shook her head and exclaimed, "A will that
shatters steel ! "
Men whom neither trade nor sale diverts them from the
Remembrance ofA llah [with heart and tonguej, norfrom performing
A-Salaat [the prayersj) (Qur 'an 24: 3 7)
Such action springs from the determination of faith, which was
inspired to the sorcerers of Fir' aun. They were inspired to believe in
Allah, the Lord of all that exists, at the moment when Prophet Moosa
and Fir'aun faced off against one another. They said to Fir'aun:
'We prefer you not over the clear signs that have come to us, and to
Him [Allah} Who created us. So decree whatever you desire to
decree. (Qur 'an 20: 72)
It was a challenge to Fir'aun that was unheard of up until that
moment. Their mission suddenly became to convey the true and
powerful message of Islam to the haughty atheist.
l:Jabeeb ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) went to
Musaylamah in order to call him to Islam. In response, Musaylamah
began to chop off limb after limb from f:Iabeeb's body. During this
process that was drawn out in order to make l:Jabeeb suffer, he did not
264 The inborn disposition upon H'hich we 1vere created

cry, scream, or shake - until the very end, when he met his Lord as a
martyr.
And the martyrs wirh their Lord, they shall have their reward and
their light) (Qur 'an 5 7: 1 9)

The inborn disposition upon which we were created

When the wind blows violently and the thunder roars and
darkness permeates the sky, man 's inherent need to tum to Allah for
help awakes from its slumber.
Then comes a storn1y wind and the waves come to them from all
sides, and they think that they are encircled therein, they invoke
A llah, rnaking their Faith pure for Him Alone. . ) (Qur 'an 1 0: 22)
Except that the Muslim invokes his Lord in times of ease and
prosperity as well as in times of hardship and difficulty.
Had he not been of rhem who glorify A llah, He would have indeed
remained inside of its belly [the fish} til! the Day of Resurrection.
(Qur 'an 3 7: 143-144)
Most people ask Allah in times of need, and when their hopes
are fulfilled, they tum away their backs proudly. Do they think that
Allah i s to be deceived!
Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive A llah, but it is He Who
deceives them. (Qur 'an 4 : 1 42)
Those who tum to Allah only during times of calamity are in that
regard students of the deviant Fir'aun. It was said to him when it was
too late:
Now [you believe} while you refused to believe befare and you were
ane of the evil-doers. (Qur 'an J O: 91)
I heard on B B C radio that when Iraq occupied Kuwait, Margaret
Thatcher, who was in Colorado at the time, quickly rushed to church
and prostrated!
Whatever is llTittenf(Jr you ll'ill unerringly come to you 265

The only explanation that I can think of is that her inbom nature
awoke, and she tumed to her Creator in spite of her disbelief and
misguidance. People have something inherent in them, which makes
them believe in Allah.
"Eve1y baby is bom on the Fitrah (the natura} and
inbom disposition to believe in Allah and accept Islam).
Then, his parents make him into a Jew, a Christian or a
Majousi (Magian). "

Whatever is written for you


will unerringly come to you

A person who is impatient about his sustenance, worried about


why he has so little, and unsatisfied at being lower than others in
worldly status is like one who precedes the Imam when going from
one stage of prayer to the next. At the end, he cannot make Salaams
(the final action that makes the prayer complete) until after the Imam
has done so. Similarly, one does not die until he receives all of the
provision that was decreed for him. Sustenance and provision were
preordained and decided upon fifty thousand years before the creation
was created.
The Event ordained by A llah will come to pass. so seek not to hasten
it) (Qur 'an 1 6: 1)
Mnd (fHe intends any goodfor you there is none who can repel His
Favor. . ) (Qur 'an 1 0: 1 0 7)
' Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"O' Allah, I seek refuge in you from the stamina of the wicked
person and from the feebleness that accompanies (a false)
confidence. "
This phrase has a very significant meaning. As I contemplated
key events in hi story, I found that many of Allah 's enemies had
266 Work hardji)r thejiui{/ul end

prodigious levels o f fortitude, hardiness, and perseverance. In


contrast, I found that many Muslims were insipid, lethargic, and
feeble, all the while thinking - and falsely so - that they were
putting their trust in A llah. A true trust in Allah requires striving and
working, and then leaving the results to Allah.

Work hard for the fruitful end

Al-Waleed ibn Mughirah, Umayyah ibn Khallaf, and Al-'Aa


ibn Waa'il spent l iberally from their wealth in the fight against Islam
and its adherents.
And so will they continue to spend it; but in the end it will become an
anguish for them. Then they will be overcome) (Qur 'an 8: 36)
Yet many Muslims are miserly, hoarding their wealth and
keeping themselves aloof from good causes.
And whoever is niggardly, it is only at the expense af his ownself)
(Qur ' an 4 7: 38)
In Golda Mayer's memoirs, Malice, the Jewish writer said that at
one stage in her life she would work sixteen hours continuously
without breaks. B ut for what end did she strive? It was to serve her
false principles and deviant ideas. She toiled until she and Ben
Gurion established a country.
I then reflected on the thousands of Muslims that will not work
even for a single hour a day. Instead it is playing, eating, drinking,
sleeping, and wasting time.
What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to marchforth
in the Cause of A llah [i. e. Jihad} you ding heavily to the earth ?l
(Qur 'an 9: 38)
' Umar was steadfast in working day and night and he would
sleep but a little. His family asked, "Do you not sleep?" He replied,
"If I sleep at night, my soul will be lost (meaning that he spent his
Work hardf(Jr thef{ui(/ul end 26 7

nights in worship) and if I sleep during the day, my people (citizens)


will be lost (as Caliph, he spent his days taking care of the peoples'
affairs). ''
The memoirs of the Assassin Moshe Dayan, The Sword and
Rule, is replete with accounts of how he flew from one country to
another, day and night, attending meetings and conferences, always
making deals and pacts. I thought what a shame it was that a person
that seemed more akin to pigs and apes than to mankind displayed
such extraordinary fortitude. To complete this somber thought, I
reflected on the feebleness and incapability of so many Muslims.
Here again I remembered 'Umar's words about the stamina of the
evildoer and the feebleness of self-assurance.
Under the aegis of 'Umar's rule, indolence and inactivity were
not tolerated. He once evicted some youths that lived in the Mosque.
He chastised them with blows and said, "Go out and seek sustenance,
for the sky does not send down rain of gold or silver. " Laziness
begets worry, depression, and manifold illnesses, while activity and
work beget satisfaction and happiness. If each one ofus does what he
is supposed to do, all of the above-mentio ned maladies can be
eradicated, and our society will benefit from an increase in
productivity and development.
And say: 'Do deeds! (Qur 'an 9: 1 05)
. . .you may disperse through the land. . ) (Qur 'an 62: J O)
Race one with another in hastening towards Forgiveness from your
Lord [Allah], and towards Paradise. . . (Qur 'an 5 7: 2 1)
And march forth in the way [which leads to} forgiveness from your
Lord, and for Paradise. . ) (Qur 'an 3: 1 3 3)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said,
"Verily, the Prophet Dawood would eat from the labor
of his hands. "
268 Work hard.for the.fiui(/i1/ end

Though it might seem to be a paradox, many people are dead


despite the faet that they are alive. They have no clue as to the
purpose of life, and they do nothing for themselves or for others.
They are content to be with those [the women} who sit behind [at
home}. (Qur 'an 9: 87)
Not equal are those of the believers who sit [at home}, except those
who are disabled [by i njury or are blind or lame, etc.}, and those who
strive hard and .fight in the Cause of Allah") (Qur 'an 4: 95)
The dark-skinned woman who cleaned the Prophet's Mosque
played out her ro le in l i fe with alacrity and a sense of purpose. And as
a result she entered Paradise.
qAnd indeed a slave woman who believes is better than a [free}
Mushrikah [idolatress, etc.}, even though she pleases you.
(Qur 'an 2: 221)
Similarly, the boy who made the pulpit for the Prophet (bpuh)
contributed according to his abilities, and for that he eamed his
reward. His talents were in carpentry and he took advantage of those
talents.
t.. .. and those who could not .find to give charity [in A llah s Cause}
except what is available to them" ) (Qur 'an 9: 79)
In a move that expanded the opportunities for the call to Islam,
the American Govem1nent opened the doors for Muslim preachers to
visit prisons in order to teach prisoners about Islam. The apparent
reason or motive was that those c1iminals, drug-dealers, and
murderers who accept Islam during their stay in prison re-enter
society as productive and good members.
lfl he who was dead [without Faith by ignorance and disbeliej] and
We gave him !fe [by knowledge and Faith} and setfor him a light [of
Belief) whereby h e can walk amongst men, like him who is in the
darkness [ofdisbelief polytheism and hypocris_v}." (Qur 'an 6: 122)
Work hard.for the .fiui(/id end 269

An extreme attachment to this life, the yeaming to live long, and


an abhorrence of death that goes beyond nonnal limits - these all
result in anxiety, worry and sleeplessness.
Allah blamed the Jews for their strong attachment to the life of
this world.
And verily, you will find them [the Jew5} the greediest of mankind
for !(fe and [even greedier} than those who ascribe partners to A llah.
Every ane ofthem wishes that he could be given a life of a thousand
years. But the grant of such !fe will not save him even a little from
[due} punishment. And Allah is All-Seer of what they do.
(Qur 'an 2: 96)
Regarding this verse, there are some important issues that we
need to discuss. First, Allah mentioned that every one of them wishes
for a long li fe. In other words, no matter what the quality of the li fe
they lead, regardless of whether they lead a li fe that is worthless and
trivial or not, they have strong aspirations to stay in this world for a
long time.
Second, there is the choice of the words "'one thousand years . "
Perhaps the reason for this stems from the tradition of Jews that when
they would meet each other, their greeting was, "Live for a thousand
years. " Allah reproached them for desiring such a long life. And yet,
suppose that they did live for one thousand years, what would be
their end? It would still be the scorching F ire!
But sure(y the torment ofthe HereG:fter will be more disgracing, and
they will never be helped. (Qur 'an 4 1 : 1 6)
And the fol iowing is a common Arab saying:
"No worries, and supplication is to A l lah. "
This means that, since Allah above is the One Whom w e ask for
good, why should we worry. If you put your trust in Allah conceming
your worries, He will remove them from you.
2 70 Your !(fe is rcplete with priceless moments

Is not He [better than your gods} Who responds to the distressed


ane, when he calls Hi1n, and Who removes the evil. . (Qur 'an 2 7: 62)
.

fAnd when My slaves ask you [O ' Muhammad} concerning Me, then
[answer them}, I am indeed near [to them by My Knowledge}. I
respond to the invocations o.f the supplicant when he calls on Me
[without any mediator or intercessor]. (Qur 'an 2: 1 86)
An Arab poet said:
"The patient one is worthy of achieving his goal,
And the one addicted to knocking on doors is worthy of
entering. "

Your life is replete unth priceless moments

'Ali at-Tantawi related two poignant experiences in his journals.


The first was when he almost drowned on the shores of Beirut. He
was drowning and time was running out for him when he was finally
rescued and carried unconscious to land. In the brief moments of
struggle befare losing consciousness he recalls his urter submission
to his Lord and his wish of retuming to life, even if it was for an hour,
to renew his faith, to d o good deeds, and to try to reach the pinnacle
of belief.
The second instance was when he accompanied a caravan
traveling from Syria to Makkah. While in the desert of Tabook, they
lost their way and wandered aimlessly for three days. Their situation
worsened when their supply of food and drink began to run out.
Everyone felt that death might very well be imminent. At this point,
he stood up and gave a speech to the people: it was tantamount to a
farewell speech to li fe. It was a heartfelt sermon that moved both
himself and his audience to tears. He felt his faith increase and he
truly felt that none cou l d save or help them except Allah , the Exalted,
the All-H igh.
Your !fe is replete with priceless moments 27 J

rvhoever is in the heavens and an earth begs ofHim [its needsfrom


Him}. Every day He has a matter to bringforth [such as giving honor
to same, disgrace to same, life to same, death to same, etc.]!
(Qur 'an 55: 2 9)
nd many a Prophetfought [in A llah : cause] and along with him
[fought} large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost
heart for that which did befal! them in Alia h s Way, nor did they
weaken nor degrade themselves. And A llah loves the patient anes.
(Qur 'an 3: 1 4 6)
Verily, Allah loves those strong believers who challenge their
enemies with patience and stamina. They don 't give up, feel
hopeless, or allow themselves to be humiliated at the bands of others.
Instead, they struggle, strive, and toil. And these are the taxes that a
believer must pay for the ultimate property in this world: faith in
Allah, His Messenger, and His religion.
"The strong believer is betler and more beloved to Allah
than the weak believer. And in each of them there is
good."
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with h im) inserted one of his
fingers into a crevice of the cave in order to protect the Prophet
(bpuh) from a scorpion, and he himselfwas bitten in the process. The
Prophet (bpuh) read upon him some Qur'anic verses and h e became
cured by the permission of Allah.
A man asked 'Antara, "What is the secret to your bravery, for
you are known for your ability to overpower men?" H e replied, "Put
your finger in my mouth and let me put mine in yours . " Each put his
finger into the mouth of the other and each one of them began to bite
the finger of the other, slowly increasing in intensity. Within a very
short span of time, the man could hold out no longer and he let out a
shrill scream, and so 'Antara loosened the hold his jaws had on the
man's finger. 'Antara said, "This is how I overpower champions": in
2 72 Your hfe is rl!plete with p riceless moments

other words, with patience and forbearance.


A believer's spirits are raised when he appreciates that he is in
close proximity of A llah's Mercy, Kindness, and Forgiveness. He
feels Allah 's protection and care with an intens ity of feeling that is
proportionate to his belief.
And there is not a thing but glorifies His Praise. But you understand
not their glorification) (Qur 'an 1 7: 44)
Farmers in this country sometimes pass their time while sowing
the earth by chanting :
"A dry seed, in a dry country in Your Hands, O' Creator of the
heavens and the earth. "
Tell Mel The seed that you sow in the ground. Is it you that make it
grow, or are We the Grower? (Qur 'an 56: 63-64)
The eloquent orator 'Abdul I:Iameed Kiskh, who was blind,
ascended the podium to give a sermon. He took a date-palm tree leaf
out o f his pocket and on it was written "Allah" in beautiful writing.
He then proclaimed to the congregation :
"Look at that tree,
With its fresh branches,
Who made it grow?
And decorated it with green?
H e is Allah,
Who is A ll-Powerful, All-Capable. "
Those who attended the sermon broke out into tears.
H e is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. His signs are
imprinted throughout the universe and all of creation pronounces
Him to be the Creator. the One with perfect qualities, and the only
One Who deserves to be worshiped.
Dur Lord! You have n ot created [all} this without purpose, glory to
You! (Qur 'an 3: 1 91)
Your /(fe is repie te lt ' ith priceless m o m en ts 2 73

Among the pillars of happiness is to know that our Lord is


mere iful and forgives the faults of the one who repents. So rej oice in
your Lord's mercy, a mercy that encompasses the heavens and the
earth. Allah, the Almighty, says:
My Mercy embraces all things) (Qur 'an 7: I 5 6)
How tremendous is Allah's kindness ! In an authentic hadith, it is
related that a Desert Arab prayed with the Prophet (bpuh), and when
they reached the end of the prayer, the man said:
"O' Allah, be merciful to me and to Muhammad, and don 't be
merciful to anyone other than us. "
The Prophet (bpuh) said to him:
"lndeed, you have constricted that which is capacious. "
Mnd He is Ever Most Merciful to the believers) (Qur 'an 33: 43)
After a battle, a woman prisoner rushed between the Prophet's
Companions to grab and protect her child. Upon witnessing this
scene, the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said:
"Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is
to her child . "
I n an authentic hadith, it has been related that before dying, a
man ordered for his corpse to be burned and his remains to b e
scattered throughout the land. Allah then put h i m together again and
said to him, "O' My slave, what was your motive for doing what you
did?" He said, "O ' my Lord, I feared You and dreaded my sins . "
Then, Allah made him enter Paradise.
But as for him who feared standing befare his Lord, and restrained
himselffrom impure evil desires. and lusts. Verily, Paradise will be
his abode) (Qur 'an 79: 40-41)
Allah took to account a man who spent extravagantly on himself
and was wasteful. Nonetheless, he was someone who worshipped
Allah and did not associate any partners with H im. Allah did not find
the man to have any good deeds except one: he was a businessman
2 74 Pause to re_flect

and would pardon the debts of those who were insolvent. Allah said,
"We are worthier of generosity than you are." Allah pardoned him
and let him enter Paradise.
'A nd Who, I hope will forgive me my faults on the Day of
Recompense, [the Day of Resurrection}. ' (Qur 'an 26: 82)
In SafJeelJ Muslim is an account wherein it is mentioned that the
Prophet (bpuh) prayed with the people, and upon completing the
prayer, a man suddenly stood and said,
"I have perpetrated a sin that is punishable by law, so
execute the punishment on me. " The Prophet asked,
"Did you pray with us?" The man answered, "Yes. "
The Prophet said, "Go, for you have been forgiven. "
nd whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks
A llah 's Forgiveness, he will find A llah Oft-Forgiving, Most
Merciful) (Qur 'an 4: 110)
There is an invi si ble mercy that surrounds the believer from
every direction. The source of this invisible mercy is Allah, Lord of
all that exists. He kept Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon
him) safe in the cave and H e showed mercy to those known as the
p eople of the cave. H e protected Ibraheem (Abraham) from the
effects of the fire. H e saved Moosa (Moses) from drowning, Nool).
(Noah) from the flood, Yusuf (Joseph) from the well, and Ayoob
(Job) from sickness (may peace be upon them all).

Pause to reflect

Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) related that she
heard the Prophet (bpuh) say,
"When a Muslim is afflicted with a calamity, and then
says what Allah orders him to say: 'Truly! To Allah we
belong and truly, to Him we shall return, ' and, 'O'
Peforming noble deeds is the way to happiness 275

Allah, reward me in my calamity and compensate m e


with that which i s better than i t (i.e. better than what was
lost. A loved one, for example), ' then Allah will
compensate him with that which is better than it. "
An Arab poet said:
"My friend, by Allah, no calamity
Lasts, no matter how large it is,
If it descends today, do not succumb to it,
And don' t complain too much when your foot slips,
How many noble people have been tried through disaster!
They were patient and vanished and went away.
My soul was attached to this world and was stubbom,
But when it witnessed my patience, it yielded. "

Peiforming noble deeds is the way to happiness

If you love that good should befall others, then you have a
blessed gift from Allah.
Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"In me, are three qualities. The first is that whenever it rains, I
praise and thank Allah. I feel happy for this blessing, even if I
mysel f don 't own camels or sheep to benefit from the rain. The
second is that whenever I hear of a just judge, I supplicate to
Allah for him, even if I don't have a case pending with him.
The third is that whenever I gain knowledge of (the meaning
of) a verse from the Qur'an, I long for others to Ieam what I
know from it. "
All of these qualities indicate a true longing for the well-being of
others. Allah described those of an opposite nature:
2 76 Bene.ficia/ k1101rledge andfruitless knoll'ledge

iThose who are miserly and enjoin miserliness on other men and
hide what A llah has bestowed upon them of His Bounties.
(Qur 'an 4: 3 7)

Beneftcial knowledge and fruitless knowledge

qAnd those who have been bestowed with knowledge and faith will
say: 'Jndeed you have stayed according to the Decree ofA llah, until
the Day of Resurrection, but you knew not. (Qur 'an 30: 56)
There is knowledge that is useful and there is knowledge that is
harmful. As for the knowledge that is useful, the believer's faith
strengthens as a result of it; on the other hand, the disbeliever does
not reap any benefit whatsoever from gaining this kind of
knowledge; though the information acquired is the same, the results
are very different. Allah says of His enemies:
! They know only the outside appearance of the life of the world [i. e.
the matters of their livelihood, like irrigation or sowing ar reaping,
etc.}, and they are h eedless of the Hereafler ) (Qur 'an 30: 7)
{Nay, they have no knowledge ofthe Herea_fter. Nay, they are in doubt
about it. Nay, they a re blind about it) (Qur 'an 27: 66)
That is what they could reach af knowledge) (Qur 'an 53: 30)
And recite [O ' Muhammad} to them the story af him to whom We
gave Our Aayaat [proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs,
revelations, etc.], but he threw them awaJ: so Satanfollowed him up,
and he became of those who went astray. And had We willed, We
would surely have elevated him therewith but he clung to the earth
and followed his o wn vain desire. So his description is the
description ofa dog: (fyou drive him away, he lolls his tongue out, or
if you leave him alone, he [still} lolls his tongue out. Such is the
description of the people who reject Our Aayaat [proo.f. evidences,
verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc]. So relate the stories, perhaps
Beneficial k1101r/edge and.fiuitless knoll'ledge 277

they may reflect. (Qur 'an 7: 1 75- 1 76)


Allah said about the Jews and their knowledge of the truth :
The likeness o.f those who were entrusted with the Torah, but who
subsequently failed in those [obligations}, is as the likeness af a
donkey who carries huge burdens ofbooks [bu t understands nothing
from them}. How bad is the example o.lpeople who deny the A ayaat
[proo_f<1, evidences, signs, verses, etc.} of A llah) (Qur 'an 62: 5)
They knew the truth from the Torah, yet they were not guided by
it. They distorted its words, and if that failed to work, they distorted
the meanings of the words. How could people who treated
knowledge in this despicable manner ever have found happiness? It
was certainly not possible in their case, for they always tried to
eradicate the truth using any means at their disposal.
. . . but they preferred blindness to guidance .. .J (Qur 'an 4 1 : 1 7)
And of their saying: 'Our hearts are wrapped [with coverings, i. e.
we do not understand what the Messengers say} ' - nay, A llah has
set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbelief, so they believe
not but a little) (Qur 'an 4: 1 55)
There are thousands, perhaps millions ofbooks in the Library of
Congress in Washington. There are books that deal with every
century, every people, every nation, and every culture. Yet who owns
this venerable library: a nation that disbelieves in its Lord, a nation
whose knowledge passes not the bounds of the tangible, material
world. As for what is beyond the material world, they hear not, see
not, feel not, nor do they understand.
fAnd We had assigned them the [faculties o.f) hearing, seeing, and
hearts, but their hearing, seeing and their hearts availed them
nothing. (Qur 'an 46: 26)
The likeness between the truth and the disbeliever's aversion to
it is as follows : The water is pure and sweet: however, the person
drinking it feels a bitter taste.
2 78 Read more, but 1vith understanding. "

How many clear Aayaat [proC!fs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs,


revelations, etc.} We gave them. (Qur 'an 2: 211)
Mnd never an A ayah [sign} comes to them from the Aayaat [proofs,
evidences, vers es, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.} of their Lord, but
that they have been turning away from it. (Qur 'an 6: 4)

Read more, but with understanding


and contemplation

To be blessed \.vith a large store of knowledge, a mind that


contemplates, a good understanding, and an intellect that delves
beneath the surface for reasons and motives - these are all factors
that contribute to giving one peace of mind.
It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear
A llah) (Qur 'an 35: 28)
Nay, they deny that; the knowledge whereof they could not
compass. . ) (Qur 'an JO: 39)
A scholar usually has an open mind and is at peace. A thinker
from the west said:
"I keep a large file in the drawer of my desk, and on it is
written, 'Foolish things I have done. ' I write in it all of the
follies and errors that I perpetrate during the course of a day; I
do this to kno'-V my faults in arder to rid myself of them. "
The earlier Muslim scholars preceded him in this endeavor. They
would meticulously take an account of their deeds.
And I swear by the self-reproaching person [a believerj)
(Qur 'an 75: 2)
Al-I:Iasan al-Bari said :
''The Muslim takes account of himself with more rigor than
does a businessman with his partner. "
Take account (f'yourse(f' 279

Ar-Rabee' ibn Khuthaym would write e verything that he said


from one Friday to the next. If he found that he had spoken well and
truthfully, he praised Allah. And if he found error in his speech, he
repented to Allah. A righteous man from the early centuries of Islam
said,
"I comrnitted a particular sin forty years ago, a sin that still
bothers me today. I continue to ask Allah to forgive me for it. "
And those who give that [theircharity} which they give [an d also do
other good deeds} with their hearts Juli offear [whether their alms
and charities, etc. , have been accepted or not}. . ) (Qur 'an 23: 60)

Take account of yourself

Keep a journal with you, and in it take account of your actions.


Write down the negative aspects of your personality and actions, and
then think of solutions to rid yourself of them. 'Umar (may Allah be
pleased with him) said:
"Take account of yourselves befare it i s taken of you. Weigh
your deeds before they are weighed for you (i.e. on the Day of
Judgment) and beautify yourselves (with good deeds) for the
great display ( on the Day of Judgment)."

Three mistakes that are common


in our everyday lives

I. Wasting time.
2. Talking about matters that don't concem us. matters that are none
of our business.
"From the goodness of one 's Islam is leaving alone that
which does not concem him. "
3 . Being preoccupied with trivial issues. Listening to rumors,
280 Plan your af/airs and rake proper precautions

predictions, and gossip are three common examples. H aving this


characteristic results i n paranoia, anxiety, and a lack of purpose in li fe.
(So A llah gave them the reward of this world, and the excellent
reward of the Hereafter ) (Qur 'an 3: 1 48)
My Guidance shall neither go astray, nor Jall into distress and
misery ) (Qur 'an 20: 123)

Plan your affairs and take proper precauhons

When a Muslim sets out to do something, he must do the


foliowing: he must p lan with caution, and he must put his trust in
\llah. The Prophet (bpuh), who was protected by Allah and who had
.i stronger trust in Allah than anyone else, wore armor in battle. A
nan ask ed the Prophet (bpuh ), "Should I tie my camel to the post or
-)hould I put my trust in Allah?"
fhe Prophet (bpuh) said,
"Tie it up and put your trust in Allah."
When you take a ppropriate steps to reach your goal, and when at
he same time you put your trust in Allah, you have implemented two
mportant principles of Islamic Monotheism. To trust in Allah
.vithout taking appropriate measures - i.e. without making an effort
o achieve one's goals - is a contemptible misunderstanding of the
eligion. And to take appropriate measures without trusting in Allah
neans that there is a defect in one 's faith in Allah.
\n Arab poet said:
"The slow cautious person will achieve part of his goals,
While the impetuous hasty one will often fail. "
B y being circumspect in your affairs, you will not have acted
ontrary to your belief in pre-ordainment; but rather, you will have
mplemented a fundamental part of it.
iAnd let him be carfitl. . ) (Qur 'an 1 8: 1 9)
Winning people over 28 1

To proteet you from the heat [and cold}, and coats ofmail to pro teet
you from your [mutual} violence. P (Qur 'an 1 6: 8 1)

Winning peopk over

An indication of one 's prosperity is the ability to gain people 's


love, respect and sympathy. Prophet lbraheem (Abraham) said:
And grant me an honorable mention in later generations)
(Qur 'an 26: 84)
Allah said of Moosa (Moses):
And I endued you with love from Me." (Qur 'an 20: 3 9)
The following two aaadeeth (hadiths) are b oth authenti c :
"You are Allah's witnesses on this earth."
"Jibraeel calls to the inhabitants of the heavens: Indeed,
Allah loves so and so, so love him. The inhabitants of
heaven then love him and an acceptance of him
permeates the earth. "
A pleasant face, kind words, and good manners are the most
powerful ways to ingratiate yourself into the hearts of people. And
yet even more powerful is gentleness. That is why the Prophet said:
"Anything that has gentleness in it is b eautified by it,
and anything that is bereft of it, is stained."
He (bpuh) also said :
"Whoever is bereft o f gentleness has been precluded
from a great deal of good."
A wise man said:
"Gentleness extricates a snake from its hole."
And they say in the west:
"Gather the honey, but don't break the hive. "
The Prophet (bpuh) said in an authentic hadi th:
"The believer is like a bee that eats what is wholesome
282 Trave! to d(fj'erent land'>

and produces \Vhat is wholesome. And when it lands on


a (small) branch, it doesn 't break it. "

Travel to dijferent lands

As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, traveling and visiting


various lands brings happiness to the soul.
Say: 'Behold all that is in the heavens and the earth. '
(Qur 'an J O: 1 01)
Have they not trave/ed through the earth and seen".
(Qur 'an 12: 1 09)
Say: 'Trave! in the land and see. " ' (Qur 'an 29: 20)
Whoever reads Ibn Batoota's book of travels - exaggerations
notwithstanding - will be amazed with Allah 's creation. Traveling
and reading the open book of creation are means by which the
believer grasps many morals and lessons.
So trave/ freely" ) (Qur 'an 9: 2)
Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun."
(Qur 'an 18: 86)
'I will not give up {traveling} until I reach the junction of the two
seas or {until} I spend years and years in traveling. ' (Qur 'an 18: 60)

Perform the late-night voluntary prayers

To stand for prayer late at night, when no human can see you,
gives tranquility and serenity to the heart. In an authentic hadith, the
Prophet (bpuh) said that waking up late at night, remembering Allah,
making ablution, and then standing for prayer makes one active and
joyful.
They used to sleep but little by night {invoking their Lord and
praying, with fear and hopej) (Qur 'an 5 1 : 1 7)
Your re1rard is Paradise 283

And in same parts of the night [also} offer the prayer with it [i. e.
recite the Qur 'an in the prayer}, as an additional prayer [Tahajjud:
optional prayer]. . ) (Qur 'an 1 7: 79)
An authentic hadith in Abu Dawood indicates that performing
the late-night prayer removes sickness from the body. The Prophet
(bpuh) said:
"Don't be like so and so. He used to stand at night (for
prayer), and then he abandoned doing so. "
The foliowing is related in a narration from Abdullah ibn 'Umar
(may Allah be pleased with him):
"Abdullah is a good man, but would that he stood at
night (for prayer)."
Don 't grieve over things that are fleetin g : everything in this
universe will perish except Allah.
Everything will perish save His Face) (Qur 'an 28: 88)
Whatsoever is on it [the earth} will perish. And the Face ofyour
Lord full of Majesty and Honor will ab ide forever.
(Qur 'an 55: 26-2 7)

Your reward is Paradise

"My soul that owns things is itself departing,


Then why should I cry when something leaves me. "
The whole world, with all its gold, s ilver, positions, and
mapsions does not deserve even a teardrop. I n a hadith related by
Tirmidhi, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace b e upon him) said:
"The world is cursed, and what is in it is cursed, except
the remembrance of Allah, that which follows it (i.e.
other good deeds that Allah loves), the scholar, and the
student. "
An Arab poet said:
284 True lol'e

"Wealth and family are only a loan,


And the day must come when the loan is retumed. "
All of the wealth in the world cannot postpone death when its
appointed time comes.
A nd this life of the world is only amusement and play!
(Qur 'an 29: 64)
I:Iasan al-Bari s aid, "Do not seek any remuneration other than
Paradise, especially since the value of a believer's soul is so
expensive. " Yet some people sell theirs for a base value. Those who
moum over bankruptcy and destruction of house or car, and do not
grieve over a low-leve l of faith and over their sins will soon come to
realize the absurdity of their outlook on life. And the realization
thereof, teemed with regret, will be augmented for an individual
according to the degree of his particular delusions. It is an issue that
strikes deep because it is one of values, morals, and priorities.
Veri(v! These [disbelievers} love the present life of this world, and
put behind them a heavy Day [that will be hard].) (Qur 'an 76: 2 7)

True love

To find true happiness, you must be from those who love Allah.
The most prosperous person is the one whose mission in life is to
achieve the love of Allah, a love that Allah refers to in this verse:
Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love
Him . . ) (Qur 'an 5: 54)
Say [O ' Muhammad to man kind}: '{f you [real(v} love A llah then
/(Jl/oiv m e [i.e. accep t lslamic Monotheism, follow the Qur 'an and
the Sunnah}, Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins.
(Qur 'an 3: 3 1)
The Prophet (bpuh) announced for all to know a superior merit
of ' Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) a merit that was like a
-
True /ore 285

crown upon his head: the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him)
described him as a man,
"Who loved Allah and His Messenger, and whom Allah
and His Messenger loved. "
One of the Prophet's Companions loved the following chapter of
the Qur'an:
Say [O ' Muhammad}: 'He is A llah, [the} One. ' (Qur 'an 112: I)
He would repeat it in each unit of the prayer, and he would
constantly read it at other times as well to give solace to his heart and
spirit. The Prophet (bpuh) said to him:
"Your love for it is what has made you to enter
Paradise."
I found the following lines in a biography of a Muslim scholar:
"lf the love of the roaming one for Sulma
And Laila, takes away one's mind and one's fac ulty of
reasonmg,
Then what do you suppose will be the case for he
Whose heart throbs for the higher world. "
And [bath} the Jews and the Christians say: ' We are the children af
A llah and His laved anes '. Say: ' Why then does He punish you for
your sins? ' (Qur 'an 5: 1 8)
The story of Majnoon 's love for Laila is well known. His
extreme love for her killed him; whereas for Qaroon (Korah) it was
the love of wealth; and for Fir'aun (Pharaoh) it was the love of
position and power. On the other hand, there is I:Iamza, Ja' afar, and
Han?ala (may Allah be pleased with them all), who all <lied for their
love of Allah and His Messenger. Vast is the distance that separates
these three noble Companions in their love - and those believers
who are like them - from the rest.
286 The shari'ah is made easyfor you

The shari'ah is made easy for you

Ease and facilitation - these are two qualities of the Shari'ah


that give comfort to the believer.
We have not sent down the Qur 'an unto you [O ' Muhammad} to
cause you distress) (Qur 'an 20: 1)
t4nd We shall make easyfor you [O ' Muhammad} the easy way {i. e.
the doing of righteous deedsJ) (Qur 'an 87: 8)
<4A.llah burdens not a person beyond his scope. (Qur 'an 2: 286)
Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given
h im) (Qur 'an 65: 7)
And He has not laid upon you in religion any hardship" )
(Qur 'an 22: 78)
He releases them from their heavy burdens [of A llah 's Covenant}
andfrom thefetters [bindings} that were upon them. (Qur 'an 7: 157)
So verily, with the hardship, there is relief Verily, with the hardship,
there is relief [i. e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one
hardship cannot overcome two reliefs}. (Qur 'an 94: 5-6)
'Our Lord! Punish us not ifweforget arJall into error, Our Lord! Lay
not on us a burden like that which You did lay an those befare us [Jews
and Christians]; our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have
strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy an
us. You are our Maula [Patron, Supporter and Protector, etc.} and
give us victory over the disbelieving people. ' (Qur 'an 2: 286)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"My nation wil l not be held accountable for mistakes,
for forgetfulness, and for what they were forced to do
(i.e. sins that were committed under duress)."
H e (bpuh) also said:
"Verily, this rel igion is easy; and when one makes the
religion too harsh, one will become overcome by it. "
Tranquihty and peace 287

Tranquility and peace

In a 1 994 issue of the magazine Ah lan was-Sahlan, an article b y


Dr. ijassan Shamsi Basha was printed, entitled, Twenty ways to avoid
anxiety. The following points are summarized from the article:
1 . The length of your life has already been decided upon, for
everything takes place according to preordainment and decree. So
there is no need to feel anxious in that regard.
2 . The decision of how much sustenance any one of us receives is
with Allah alone: no one else owns that sustenance or has the power
to take it from you.
3. The past is gone and has taken with it its woes and miseries. It
cannot return even if the whole of mankind w orked as one unit to
bring it back.
4. The future is from the unseen world and h as not yet arrived. I t
brings with i t matters, showing no regard t o your permission or
feelings, so do not call it forth until it actually arrives.
5. Doing good to others brings happiness to both the heart and the
soul. A good deed provides greater benefits to the benefactor - in
terms of blessings and recompense and peace - than it does to the
receiver.
6. Among the noble qualities of the believer is that he doesn 't
concern himselfwith spurious criticism. No one has been saved from
curses and criticism, not even Allah, the Lord of all that exists, Who
is Perfect and Exalted.

Beware of ardent love

Beware of falling in love with appearances; such love is beset


with anxiety and perpetual misery. It is a blessing for a Muslim that
he stays away from messages found in lyrics and music, messages
288 Bnvare (lardent loi1e

about ardent love, unrequited love, or separation from one's object of


love.
Have you seen hin1 who takes his own lust [vain desires} as his
[god}, and A llah knowing [him as such}, lefl him astray, and sealed
his hearing and his heart, and put a cover an his sigh t)
(Qur 'an 45: 23)
In reproaching himself, an Arab poet wrote the foliowing:
'"I am the one who has brought death a knocking,
Then who is to blame when the murdered is the murderer. "
H e is blaming h imself for the perpetual pain and misery that he
experienced, finally recognizing that by falling in passionate love -
and then by not being able to fall out of it - he alone was to blame
for his woes.
And ifan evil whisper comes to youfrom Satan then seek refuge with
A llah) (Qur 'an 7: 200)
Verily, those who are A l-Muttaqoon [the pious}, when an evil
thought comes to them from Satan, they remember [A llah], and
[indeedj they then see [arightj) (Qur 'an 7: 201)
Ibn al-Qayyim e xpounded on this topic in his hook The Disease
and the Cure. H e mentioned a number of factors that contribute to
one falling hopelessly and uncontrollably in love. Among them are
the foliowing:
l . An empty heart that is bereft of love for Allah, remembrance of
H im, and fear of Him.
2 . Allowing one's eyes to wander and stare. The eye is a scout that
can bring back misery to the heart.
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze [from looking atforbidden
things]. . ) (Qur 'an 24: 30)
A look is an arrow from the arrows of the Devil. An Arab poet said:
"When you all ow your eyes to wander ahead as a scout,
Looking at all eyes and stares will then follow,
Some curesfor ardent. unhridled love 289

Seeing that which you are not capable of embracing completely,


While not being patient for getting something partially. "
3 . Being negligent in worship - especial ly in remembrance,
supplication, and prayer.
Verily, A!i-Salaat [the prayer} prevents from A l-Fasha [i.e. great
sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc} and A l-Munkar
[i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind ofevil wicked deed, etc.}.
(Qur 'an 29: 45)

Same cures for ardent, unbridled love

Thus it was, that We might turn away from him evil and illegal
sexual intercourse. Surely, he was ane ofDur clwsen, guided slaves. P
(Qur 'an 12: 24)
1 . Strive to improve your worship - by being more sincere - and
invoke Allah to cure you.
2. Lower your gaze.
And proteet their private parts [from illegal sexual acts, etc.}. P
(Qur 'an 24: 30)
rMnd those who guard their chastity [i. e. private parts, fro m illegal
sexual acts}. (Qur 'an 23: 5)
3 . Travel away from the object of your passion.
4. Keep yourself busy in doing good deeds.
Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call
on Us with hope and fear. . ) (Qur 'an 2 1 : 90)
5. Marry lawfully, i.e. in accordance with the Shari'ah .
-- . then marry women of your choice .
. . (Qur 'an 4: 3)
And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from
among yourselves, that you may find repose in them. . .
(Qur 'an 30: 21)
290 The rights af brotherhood

The Prophet (Blessin gs and Peace be upon him) said:


"O' group of y oung men, whoever from you is capable
of (paying) the dowry (and taking care of all necessary
expenses related to marriage) , then let him marry."

The rights of brotherhood

Upon meeting your Muslim brother, call him by a name he loves


and greet him with a smiling face.
"To smile at y our brother is charity. "
Encourage him to speak with you, or in other words, give him an
opportunity to talk to you about himself and about his life. Ask him
about his affairs, but only about those things that won 't eau se him
embarrassment.
"Whoever is unconcemed with the affairs of the
Muslims, is not from them. "
The believers, men and women, are A uliya [helpers, supporters,
friends, protectors} of one another. . ) (Qur 'an 9: 71)
Don 't blame or remind him of his past errors, and don 't cause
him discomfort by making fun of him.
"Do not dispute with your brother, don 't make fun of
him, and don 't make an appointment with him and then
not show up. "

Two secrets regarding sinning


(even if you know them, don 't sin)

Some of the people of knowledge mentioned that:


I. After one repents from a sin, one's feelings of self-importance and
sanctimoniousness are quelled.
Seek out sustenance but don 't be covetous 291

2. Allah 's names and attributes, such as the Most Merci ful and the
Oft-Forgiving, bear a greater meaning to the one who sins and then
repents than they do to others.

Seek out sustenance but don 't be covetous

All glory and praise is for the Creator and Provider. H e gives
sustenance to the worm in the ground, the fish b eneath water, the bird
in the air, the ant in the dark, and the snake within the crevice of a
rock.
Ibn al-Jawzi mentioned something he witnessed that was
wonderful yet strange. A blind snake lived on a branch at the top of a
tree. A hird would come to it with food in its mouth. It would chirp a
signal to the snake, which in return would open its mouth and allow
the bird to insert the food. All praise and glory b elongs to Allah, Who
made this one to help the other.
Nor a bird that .fiies with its two wings, but are communities like
you) (Qur 'an 6: 38)
Provision came to Mariyam (Mary) day and night. It was said to
her, "How does this come to you." She replied, "It is from Allah.
Verily, Allah provides for whom He wishes without reckoning. "
So do not worry, for your sustenance is guaranteed.
A nd kil/ not your children forfear ofpoverty. We provide for them
and for you) (Qur 'an 1 7: 3 1)
People must realize that the Provider for b oth father and son i s
the One Who begets not, nor i s H e begotten.
And kill not your children for fear ofpoverty. We provide for them
and for you. (Qur 'an 1 7: 31)
The proprietor of infinite treasures has guaranteed your sustenance .
So seek your provision from A llah [Alone]. and worship Him
[A lone}, and be grateful to Him ) (Qur 'an 29: 1 7)
292 Pause to reflect

iA nd it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink.


(Qur 'an 26: 79)

Pause to reflect

As for the prayer, its significance - or rather part of its


significance - i s that it empties the heart from bad feelings and fills
it with strength and pleasure. During prayer, one's heart and soul are
in communication with Allah. Closeness to Him, the comfort realized
from asking of H im, and the spirituality felt from standing in front of
Him - these are all realized during the prayer. Every limb is used in
the prayer, but what is more important is that the heart must be
wakeful as well. When one prays, tranquility and peace are achieved,
as one travets away, at least spiritually, from enemies and troubles.
Thus the prayer is one of the most potent of remedies for the <liseases
of the heart. Yet only the worthy heart benefits from prayer; the weak
heart, on the other hand, is like the body, in that it seeks its sustenance
from material matter.
Therefore prayer is the greatest way to help us achieve the
b l essings of both this world and the Hereafter. The prayer precludes
one from sins, defends against <liseases, illuminates both heart and
face, makes one actiYe, and in general, brings good upon the person
who performs it sincerely.

A religion that is full of benefits

Islam offers the believer a broad range of benefits and rewards,


benefits that encourage him to continue upon the true path and
rewards that boost his hopes for the Hereafter. Deeds that wipe out
sins - such as prayer - are many in Islam. For example, a good
deed is multiplied ten times in reward, or seven hundred, or even
Fear 1101.1 Sure/y. J'OU wi// hare the upper hand 293

much, much more. Another example is hardship, because any time a


believer is afflicted with hardship, some of his sins are atoned for.
(Also, during times of affliction one benefits from the suppl ications
of other believers. )
And ifyou would count the graces ofAl/ah, never could you b e able
to count them. (Qur 'an 1 6: 1 8)
And He has completed and pe1.fected His Graces upon you, [both}
apparent [i. e. l')famic Monotheism, and the lattful pleasures o.f this
world, including health, good looks, etc.] and h idden [i. e. One s faith
in Allah (of Is/amic Monotheism), knowledge, wisdom, guidance for
doing righteous deeds, and also the pleasures and deligh ts o.f the
Herea,fter in Paradise, etc.}. (Qur 'an 3 1 : 20)

Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand

Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand. (Qur 'an 20: 68)
Moosa (Moses) was especially in trouble on three occasions:
1 . When he entered the council of the evil Fir'aun, he said:
'Our Lord! Veri(v.' We.fear fest he should hasten to punish us or fest
he should transgress [all bounds against us}. ' (Qur 'an 2 0: 45)
He [Allah} said: 'Fear not, verily! I am with you both, hearing and
seeing. ' (Qur 'an 20: 46)
The phrase, "I am with you"., hearing and seeing" should
always be in the mind of the Muslim.
2. When the sorcerers threw their rods, Allah, the Almighty, said:
'Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand. '
(Qur 'an 20: 68)
3 . When Fir'aun and his army were catching up with Moosa (Moses),
Allah said:
Strike the sea with your stick. (Qur 'an 26: 63)
Moosa (may peace be upon him) said:
294 Stay awayfrom thefollmvingfour . . .

Nay, verily! With m e is my Lord, He will guide me)


(Qur 'an 26: 62)

Stay away from the foliowing Jour . . .

The foliowing four deeds bring misery to a person's heart, so


avoid them:
1 . Complaining and being angry with what Allah has decreed.
2 . Committing sins without repenting afterwards.
Say [to them}, 'It isfrom yourselves [because ofyour evil deeds}. '
(Qur 'an 3: 1 65)
It is because af what your hands have earned ) (Qur 'an 42: 30)
3 . Hating people for the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon
them.
Or do they envy men for what Allah has given them ofHis Bounty?
(Qur 'an 4: 54)
4. Tuming away from the remembrance of Allah:
. . . verily, for him is a !(fe of hardship. . ) (Qur 'an 20: 1 24)

In order to find peace, tum to your Lord

Allah 's slave - i .e. every one of us - can find comfort only by
tuming to A llah, the Exalted, Who mentioned tranquility in many
verses of the Qur'an :
Then A llah sent down His Sakinah [calmness and tranquility] upon
His Messenger and upon the believers) (Qur 'an 48: 26)
. . . He sent down calmness and tranquility upon them " )
(Qur 'an 48: 18)
qThen A llah did send down His Sakinah [calmness, tranquility and
reassurance, etc.} on the Messenger [Muhammad}. "
(Qur 'an 9: 26)
Two great words (l solace 295

Tranquility means having a heart that is at peace and that has a


sound trust in Allah. Tranquility is a state of c alm enjoyed by those
believers who have been saved from doubt. And it is according to
one 's closeness to Allah and steadfastness in fol lowing the
Messenger's way that one will achieve tranquility and peace.
Allah will keep firm those who believe, with the word that stands
firm in this world [i. e. they will keep on worshipping A llah A lone and
none else}, and in the Hereafter ) (Qur 'an 1 4: 2 7)

Two great words of solace

Imam AQ.mad related two phrases that were said to him during
the difficult times in which he was being punished and tortured.
A man who was imprisoned for drinking alcohol spoke the first,
when he met Imam AQ.mad and said,
"O' AQ.mad, be steadfast for you are about to be whipped for
the truth that you are upon. I have been whipped many times
for drinking, and even I was patient. "
So be patient [O ' Muhammad]. Verily, the Promise afA llah is true,
and let not those who have no certainty o.ffaith. discourage you from
conveying Allah 's Message [which you are obliged to convey].
(Qur 'an 30: 60)
". if you are sujfering [hardships] then surely, they [too} are
suffering [hardships} as you are suffering, but you have a h ope from
A llah [for the reward, i.e. Paradise} thatfor which they hope not" )
(Qur 'an 4: 1 04)
A Desert Arab who witnessed Imam AQ.mad in chains as he was
being taken to prison said the second phrase. H e said, "O' Al).mad, be
patient, for verily, if this is the spot from which you will be killed, it
will also be the spot from which you will enter Paradise. "
296 Some of the positive e.fects
f of experiencing hardship

Their Lord gives them glad tidings of a Mercy from Him, and that
He is pleased [with them}, and of Gardens [Paradise} for them
wherein are ever/asting delights) (Qur 'an 9: 21)

Some of the posi. tive effects of experiencing hardship

Hardship makes one tum humbly toward one's Lord. Someone


once said, "How Perfect is Allah, Who has elicited supplication
through hardship. " It has been related that Allah tested one of His
slaves in a matter and then said to the Angels that it was, "In order to
hear his voice," meaning his supplications and invocations.
Hardship instills humility in the heart of the afflicted:
Nay! Verily, man does transgress all bounds [in disbelief and evil
deeds, etc.], because he considers himself self-sufficient)
(Qur 'an 96: 6)
People give comfort to, and pray for, the afflicted. Thus during
times of hardship the believers come together in a spirit of
brotherhood.
H ardship should make one grateful for having been saved from
that which is greater than the hardship with which he was afflicted.
Furthennore, hardship atones for sins. When the slave of Allah gains
an appreciation o f these facts, he will be thankful.
Only those who are patient sha/l receive their rewards in full,
without reckoning. (Qur 'an 39: 1 0)

Knowkdge

lbn I:Iazm mentioned that from the benefits ofknowledge is that


it repels evil whispers from the soul and that it rids one ofworries and
troubles.
Happiness fa a Dil'ine gji. " 297

This is especially true for the one who loves knowledge, who
studies constantly, and who applies in practice what he learned. The
student of knowledge should distribute his time between
memorizing, reading, revising, researching, and reflecting.

Happiness is a Diuine gift that does not


distinguish between the rich and the poor

It is not uncommon to see laborers who are so poor that whatever


they eam on any given day is spent on that same day. Yet many o f
thern are happy, peaceful, with strong hearts and tranquil souls. This
is because they are too busy to think about yesterday or tomorrow.
Their life-style has given them an appreciation of today since they
have not been afforded the opportunity of thinking about anything
el se.
Compare these to those who live in rnansions. lnactivity and free
time have afforded them with plentiful time to think about their
problems and their lack of purpose in life. Thus misery and worry
afflict many of them day and night.

Being remembered after death is a second life

Being given a second life is a great blessing. Many are those


who have purchased this life not with wealth or position, but with
deeds. Ibraheem (Abraham) supplicated to His Lord to be
remembered well by others and to be prayed for. 'Umar (may Allah
be pleased with hirn) asked the children of Harim ibn Sinaan, "What
has Zuhayr given you, and what have you given him?" They said,
"He complimented us well and we gave him wealth. " ' Umar said,
"By Allah, what you have given him has perished, and what he has
given you has remained. "
298 lnvoke A llah 1rith thefollmring

Invoke Allah with the following

"O ' A llah, give us a good share ofpiety, for You serve as a
barrier between us and between our disobeying You. Give us that
share of obedience to You with which You make us en ter Paradise,
and a share of the jaith that serves to make the calamities of this
world seem easy for us. Make us enjoy the blessings of our hearing,
sight, and strength as lang as You give us life. . . Grant us revenge
against those who have wronged us and help us against those who
have transgressed against us. And do not make our calamity to be in
our religion; do not make the world to be the most important matter
with us, nor make it the extent of our knowledge. A nd on account of
our sins, do not give those who show us no mercy the power to
subjugate us. "

A Lord Who wrongs not

You should feel reassured in that you have a Lord Who is just.
Allah, the Exalted, admitted a woman into Paradise because of a
dog and another into the Hellfire because of a cat. The first was a
prostitute from the children of Israel; because she once gave drink to
a thirsty dog, Allah forgave her and admitted her into Paradise. This
was a just recompense for her sincerity in doing a good deed, for her
sincerity to Allah. The second was a woman who confined a cat to a
room. She neither fed it nor gave it drink; by confining the cat, she
prevented it from eating insects in the fields, and so Allah made her
enter the Hellfire.
The story of the first woman is one that brings coolness to the
heart, because it makes one know that Allah gives great rewards for
small deeds.
fSo whosoever does good equal to the weight ofan atom [or a smal/
Write _vour mrn history 299

ant} shall see it. A nd whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an
atom [or a smal! ant} shall see it. (Qur 'an 99: 7-8)
Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds [i. e. smal! sins].
(Qur 'an l i : 1 1 4)
So help the grief-stricken, give to the poor, aid the oppressed,
visit the sick, pray over the dead, guide the blind, give comfort to the
afflicted, guide the misguided, and be generous to both guest and
neighbor. All of these are deeds of charity, deeds that not only help
the receiver of your kind acts, but that also help you by giving you
comfort and peace.

Write your own history

One day, I was sitting in the lfaram in M akkah; it was a sultry


day and the noon prayer was about to begin, when I noticed an old
man distributing Zamzam water. H e would fill a few cups, give them
out to people, and then he would return and repeat the process. H e
continued doing so for some time until h e became soaked i n sweat. I
was amazed at the fortitude of this old man and at his love for doing
kind deeds. He would give a smile and a cup of water to as many
people as he was able to serve. It made me appreciate that, if Allah
guides one to doing a good deed, one will d o it with a smile, even
when it involves hard work.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) put his own life at
risk on the road to Madeenah in order to protect the Messenger of
Allah (bpuh).
In order to feed his guests, I:Jatim would sleep on a hungry stomach.
Abu ' Ubaydah would stand guard at night in order to give rest to
the Muslim army.
'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) would walk through the
streets at night while people were asleep in order to ensure their
300 Listen atten1ively IO the irords qf' A llah

safety. And in the year of the great famine he would go hungry in


order to feed the people.
Abu Tal}:ia (may Allah be pleased with him) used his body as a
shield, protecting the Prophet (bpuh) from arrows during the battle of
Ul:md.
Ibn Mubarak would distribute food while he himself was fasting.
And they give food, in spile of their love for it [or for the love of
flimj, to the Miskeen [poor}, the orphan, and the captive)
(Qur 'an 76: 8)

Listen attentively to the words of Allah

Recite the Qur'an and listen to it being recited - in doing so,


you will find happiness, peace, and tranquility. The Messenger of
A llah (Blessings and Peace be upon him) used to love to hear the
Qur'an being recited by one of his noble Companions.
You should allot a few minutes of every day to listen to a tape of
Qur' anic recitation. The noise you hear in the streets, at work, or in
the office are sure to cause you vexation, so take time out to give
yourself comfort by reading your Lord 's Book:
Those who believe [in the Oneness of A llah - lslamic
Monotheism}, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of
A llah, verily, in the remembrance of A llah do hearts .find rest.
(Qur 'an 13: 28)
The foliowing is related in an authentic hadith:
"The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) ordered lbn Mas' ood
to read The Chapter ofWomen from the Qur'an. He read
it until the Prophet's tears began rolling down his
cheeks; the Prophet then said: 'This is sufficient for you
(i.e., you can s top reading now). '"
Say: '{( mankind and the jinns were together to produce the like of
Everyone is searchingfor happiness, but . .. 301

this Qur 'an, they could not produce the like thereoj," even (l they
helped one another. (Qur 'an 1 7: 88)
Had We sent down this Qur 'an on a mountain, you would surely
have seen it humbling itself and rending asunder by the fear af
A llah) (Qur 'an 59: 21)
The everyday routine of life often leads one to the road of
apathy, whereby one cares for nothing but eating and sleeping, thus
bringing one down to the level of animals. But when one retums to
the words of his Lord, one feels comfort and peace.
It is important to note here that it is Allah's words, not music,
that bring peace to a person. Music is a cheap and forbidden
substitute. We have with us something better, that with which the
Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him) came:
Falsehood cannot come to it from befare it or behind it [it is} sent
down by the All- Wise, Worthy ofall praise [Allah}. (Qur 'an 4 1 : 42)
. . .you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they
have recognized. (Qur 'an 5: 83)
As for music, only fools find peace in it:
And of mankind is he who purehases idle talks [i. e. m usic, singing,
etc.} to mislead [men} from the Path ofA llah without knowledge. . )
(Qur 'an 3 1 : 1 6)

Everyone is searching for happiness, but . . .

F ew are those who are guided to the p ath that tru l y leads to
happiness. Regarding that and other paths, here are three points for
you to reflect upon:
1 . Whoever does not make the pleasure of Allah to be his main
concem in life will end up losing in the end:
We shall gradually seize them with punishment in ways they
perceive not. (Qur 'an 7: 1 82)
302 Prepare for bad times hy being thank.ful. . .

2 . I n order t o achieYe happiness, people attempt to follow many


complicated and tricky paths. Little do they know that an easier path
is ready for them in the religion of Islam - a path that wil1 bring
them the best of this life and the Hereafter.
. . . but ifthey had done what they were told, it would have been better
for them, and would have strengthened their [Faith}. (Qur 'an 4: 66)
3 . There are too many people in this world who think they are doing
well, but who, in reality, are losing out on this life and the Hereafter,
simply because they turn their backs to the true Religion.
And the Word ofyour Lord has beenfuljilled in truth and injustice)
(Qur 'an 6: 115)

Prepare for bad times by being


thankful when all is well

Supplicate often in times of comfort, peace, and well-being.


Among the characteristics of the believer is that he is thankful and
resolute: he sharpens the arrow before releasing it from the bow, and
he turns to Allah before he is afflicted. The opposites of the believer
in this regard are both the vile disbeliever and the i njudicious
Muslim.
And when same hurt touches man, he cries to his Lord [Allah
A lone], turning to Hin z in repentance, but when He bestows a favor
upon him from Himself, he forgets that for which he criedfor befare,
and he sets up rivals to A llah " . (Qur 'an 39: 8)
Therefore if we truly want to be sav ed, we must remain steadfast
in supplicating and praising Allah. The purpose of supplicating to
Allah during times of ease, as has been mentioned by Imam Al
I:Ialeemee, is to praise Allah, to thank Him, and to recognize His
many favors; and at the same time, to ask for guidance and help. It is
also important to seek forgiveness for your shortcomings: no matter
Bliss rersus the Fire 303

how hard you try, you cannot completely fulfill the rights that Allah
has upon you. When one remains heedless of those rights at a time
when he has no worries or when he feels secure, he falls under the
category of those mentioned in the verse:
And when they embark on a ship, they invoke A llah, making their
Faith pure for Him only, but when He brings them safely to land,
behold, they give a share of their worship to others.
(Qur 'an 29: 65)

Bliss versus the Fire

News agencies around the world reported the suicidal death of a


French minister during the rule of Mitterand. The reason behind the
suicide was that French newspapers waged an unmitigated war
against the minister by besmirching his name and reputation. Having
found no faith or sanctuary to resort to, or in which to seek support,
he destroyed his own life.
This wretched man, who sought refuge i n self-destruction, was
not guided by the divine guidance that is epitomized in the following
verses:
And be not distressed because of what they p lot. (Qur 'an 1 6: 1 2 7)
They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance" . l
(Qur 'an 3: 1 1 1)
nd be patient with what they say, and keep away from them in a
good way ) (Qur 'an 73: 1 0)
It was because he was lost and was far away from the path of truth.
Whosoever A llah sends astray, none can guide him" )
(Qur 'an 7: 1 86)
There are some who suggest that every person who is
downtrodden or who is in a hapless situation should go on a nature
expedition, listen to music, go skiing, or play chess or backgammon.
304 Have We not opened your hreastfor you . ?
. .

But the adherents of Islam lay claim to a cure that is more


effective: it is to sit in the Mosque between the call to prayer and the
actual commencemen t of prayer in order to remember Allah and to
submit to and be contented with the divine decree. And it is of equal
importance that one p laces his total trust in Allah.

Have We not opened your breast


for you [O ' Muhammad}?

Have We not opened your breast .for you [O ' Muhammad]?


(Qur 'an 94: 1)
These were the \\.'Ords that descended upon the Prophet (bpuh)
and they became mani fest in his character; his mind was at ease and
he was in high spirits; he was optimistic and easy going in his affairs.
H e was close to the hearts of the people in a venerable way: though
he was close to the people and was always smiling, there was always
with him a sense of dignity and honor. In terms of character, his was
complete and unparall eled. Showing ample modesty, he would play
with children and would openly welcome the visitor. B ecause he
remained happy with Allah 's favors and blessings, hopelessness and
failure were concepts that were absolutely foreign to him. lnstead he
favored optimism of the propitious kind. Hateful to him were
ostentation, affectedne ss, and extravagance. It can easily be said that
the Prophet (bpuh) was the epitome of all of the above-mentioned
characteristics. H e was noble in the true sense of the word because he
was the conveyer of a true message, the proprietor of honorable
principles, the exampl e and teacher for an entire nation, the man of
family and society, and the bearer of many virtues.
H e was, in short, someone who was guided to all that is good.
. " he releases them from their heavy burdens [o.fAllah fI'. covenant},
and.from thefetters [bindings} that were upon them) (Qur 'an 7: 1 5 7)
A good l(f'e 305

Or in other words, he was:


L . a mercy.for the 'Aalameen [mankind, jinns, and all that existsj)
(Qur 'an 2 1 : 1 0 7)
As witness, and a bearer ofglad tidings, and a warner - and as one
who invites to Allah by His Leave, and as a lamp spreading light.
(Qur 'an 33: 46)
Among that which goes against Islam and its easy to follow
message is the extravagance of the Khawaarij, the foo lishness and
extremes of Sufism, the passionate love o f the poets, and the
vainglory of those who worship this life.
Then Allah by His Leave guided those who b elieved to the truth of
that wherein they differed. And A llah guides whom He wills to a
Straight Path) (Qur 'an 2: 2 1 3)

A good life

A Western thinker said:


"It is most possible for you, while you are behind steel bars, to
look out upon the horizon and to smell roses. I t is also
extremely plausible for you to be in a castle replete with
opulence and comfort, and yet be angry and discontented with
your family and wealth. "
Therefore happiness is not determined by time or by p lace, but
instead by faith in Allah and obedience to Him, matters that are
rooted in a person 's heart. The heart has a far-reaching significance in
that it is the place that Allah looks at and scrutinizes. If faith settles
itself in the heart, happiness and tranquility will pervade both the
heart and the soul.
Al).mad ibn I:Ianbal was a venerable scholar and a prolific
compiler of hadith. He lived a productive li fe, yet he was not rich: his
garment was patched in many places and every time it tore again, he
306 A good hfe

would sew it himself. He lived in a three-room structure made of


mud. Often, all that he could find to eat was a piece of bread. And his
biographers mention that he had the same shoes for seventeen years
and he would often patch them up or sew them if there was a tear.
Meat would find its \vay to his plate only once a month, and on most
days he fasted. He joumeyed throughout the lands seeking out
ahaadeeth (hadiths). Yet, despite all of the hardships he had to bear,
he was contented, comfortable, serene, and unworried, qualities that
can be attributed to his fortitude, to his knowing his goal and final
destination, to his seeking reward from Allah, and to his striving after
the Hereafter and Paradise.
On the other hand, the rulers of his time, such as Al-Ma'moon,
Al-Wathiq, Al-Mu'taim and Al-Mutawakkil, all lived in castles.
They owned hoards of gold and silver; an entire army was at their
d isposal; they had all that they desired. ln spite of all their material
wealth, they lived in turmoil and they spent their lives in anxiety and
worry. Wars, uprisings, and insurgencies brought them misery. In the
records of hi story we even find that many of them would renounce
the world bitterly o n their deathbed, feeling regretful for their
extravagances on the one band and for their shortcomings on the
other.
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah is another example: he spent his
time on this earth with no family, no place to call home, no wealth,
and no position. H e had a room adjoining the central mosque, a slice
ofbread to keep him going for the day, and two garments. Sometimes
h e would sleep in the mosque. But, as he said about his situation, his
paradise was in his breast, his execution meant martyrdom,
imprisonment was peaceful seclusion, and being exiled from his
country meant traveling abroad as a tourist. Such sentiments could
come from him only because the tree of faith in his heart had firm and
solid roots.
What then is happiness? 307

- " whose oil would almost glow .forth [of itse(fl, though no .fire
touched it. Light upon Light! A llah guides to His Light whom He
wills. (Qur 'an 24: 35)
He will expiate from them their sins, and will make good their
state) (Qur 'an 4 7: 2)
While as for those who accept guidance. He increases their
guidance, and bestows on them their piety. (Qur 'an 4 7: 1 7)
You will recognize in their .faces the brightness of delight.
(Qur 'an 83: 24)
Abu Dhar was a Companion known for his abstemious lifestyle.
Taking with him his wife and children, he left the city and settled in
an isolated location. After setting up his tent, most of his days were
spent chiefly in worship, recitation of the Qur'an, and reflection.
Most days he fasted. His worldly possessions were limited to a tent,
some sheep, and a few other trifling things. Some friends visited
him once and they asked, "Where is the world (i.e. where are the
material things that others have)?" He said, "In my house is all that I
need from this world, and the Prophet (bpuh) informed us that i n
front of us i s an insurmountable obstacle (i.e. on the Day o f
Judgment), and no one will pass i t (safely) except for the one who
has a light load. "
Despite living a life of penury, he had all that he needed from this
world. As for superfluous possessions, he felt that they would divert
him from his main purpose and would only cause him wony.

What then is happiness?

"Live in this world as if you are a stranger or a traveler


who is just passing through."
Happiness is not in the castle of 'Abdul Malik ibn Marwan, in
the army of Haroon ar-Rasheed, in the mansions of lbn Jaa, in the
308 Wha t then ;s happiness?

treasures of Qaroon ( Korah), or in gardens of roses.


Bliss and happiness were the lot of the Prophefs Companions
even though they were poor and led harsh lives. Happiness was with
Imam B ukhari in his collection of ahaadeeth (hadiths), with Al
I:Iasan al-Bari in his truthfulness, with Ash-Shafi ' ee in his
deductions, with Malik and Al).mad in their introspection and self
denial, and with Thaabit al-Bannani in his worship.
That is because they suffer neither thirst nor fatigue, nor hunger in
the Cause of A llah, nor they take any step to raise the anger of
disbelievers nor injlict any injury upon an enemy but is written to
their credit as a deed of righteousness. Surely, A llah wastes not the
reward of the doers of good. (Qur 'an 9: 120)
Happiness is not a c heque cashed, a car bought, or oil pumped.
Happiness is the solace that is derived from being upon the truth,
a peace of mind that is achieved by living according to sound
principles, and calmness that is brought about by living a life of
goodness.
We used to think that if we bought a bigger house, had more
things, and purchased the latest appliances and machines that make
life easier, we would be happy and joyful. And then it surprised us
when we found that these very things were the cause of worry,
anxiety, and trouble i n our lives.
And strain not your eyes in longingfor the things We have given for
enjoyment to various groups of them [polytheists and disbelievers in
the Oneness of A llah], the splendor of the hfe af this world that We
m a_v test them thereb_v .l (Qur 'an 20: 131)
The greatest reformer in the world was the Messenger of
guidance, Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him).
Financially, he was poor; at times, he wasn 't even able to find the pit
of a date with which to satisfy his hunger. Notwithstanding these
difficulties, he lived a li fe of bliss and inner peace to an unparalleled
What then is happ in ess? 309

degree, the extent of which no one knows except Allah, the Exalted.
And removed ji-om you your burden, which weighed down your
back?) (Qur 'an 94: 2-3)
A nd Ever Great is the Grace of Allah unto you [O ' Muhammad}.
(Qur 'an 4: I 13)
Allah knows hest with whom to p/ace His .\1essage.
(Qur 'an 6: I 24)
The Prophet (bpuh) said in an authentic hadith:
"Sin is what affects (and lingers in) the heart and what
you hate for people to find out about. And performing
good deeds is what the heart and soul feel tranquil (and
satisfied) with . "
Uprightness calms both conscience and soul. The Prophet said:
"Performing good deeds is tranquility while performing
sins is uncertainty. "
The doer of good is always at peace and the sinner is always
wary and suspicious of what goes on around him.
They think that every cry is against them) (Qur 'an 63: 4)
The wrongdoer goes from anxiety to suspicion and then finally
to paranoia.
"If one does ill he will feel suspicious,
And he will believe whatever he imagines and fancies."
The solution for anyone who seeks happiness clearly lies in
doing well and avoiding evil.
It is those who believe [in the Oneness afA llah and worship none
but Him Alone} and confitse not their belief with iutm [wrong i. e. by
worshipping others hesides A llah], for them [only] there is security
and they are the guided. ) (Qur 'an 6: 82)
Being a Muslim who is spiritually h ealthy is better than
achieving the kingdoms of Khosrau and Caesar. since your religion is
what will remain with you until you settle in the gardens of Paradise.
310 To Him do the good words ascend

As for power and position, they are but momentary and fleeting.
Verily! We will inherit the earth and whatsoever is thereon. And to
Us they all shall be returned) (Qur 'an 1 9: 40)

To Him do the good words ascend

The Messenger o f Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him)


taught his Companions a number of beautiful invocations,
invocations that were brief in length but far-reaching in their
implications.
Abu Bakr (may A llah be pleased with him) asked the Prophet
(bpuh) to teach him a supplication, and he answered:
"Say: 'O ' my Lord, verily, I have greatly wronged
myself, and n o one forgives sins except You. So forgive
m e with Your forgiveness and have Mercy on me, since
verily, You are the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. '"
The Prophet (bpuh) said to 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him):
"Ask A llah for pardon and good health. "
And he said to ' Al i (may Allah be pleased with him):
"Say: 'O ' A llah, guide me and direct me (to the right
path). "
H e (bpuh) said to 'Ubayd ibn Buayn (may Allah be pleased with
him):
"Say: o ' A llah, Inspire me to the right guidance and
protect me from the evil of my own self. "'
He (bpuh) taught Shaddad ibn Aws (may Allah be pleased with him)
to say:
"O ' A llah, I ask You to make me steadfast in the matter
(ofReligion), resolute upon right guidance, thankfulfor
Your blessing, and diligent in Your worship. And I ask
Yhu, 0 ' A llah, to make my heart sound, my tongue
Such is the Sei::: ure q{your Lord 31 1

trutful,- and I ask You from the good that You knmv. I
seek refuge in You from the evil that You have fitll
knmvledge about and I ask Your forgiveness for that
which You (complete(y) know of Tru ly, You are the
Knower of all things unseen. "
And he taught Mu' aadh (may Allah be pleased with him) to say:
"O ' A llah, help me to remember You, to thank You, and
to worship You excellently. "
That we should ask for Allah's Pleasure and for His Mercy in the
H ereafter, that we invoke Allah to save us from His anger and
punishment, and that we ask Him for help in worshipping H i m and
thanking Him - these are some of the more salient themes that are
stressed in the previous supplications. Regarding these themes, there
is one uniting or common factor: that we should seek what is with
Allah and tum away from what is in this world, or in other words, that
we must not be covetous of material things t hat are, by their very
nature, evanescent.

Such is the Seizure of your Lord

Such is the Seizure ofyour Lord when He seizes the [population oj]
towns while they are doing wrong) (Qur 'an 1 1 : 1 02)
One can become sad and wretched for different reasons; the
following are some of them: to do wrong to others, to usurp their
rights, and to hurt the meek among mankind. Some of the wise used
to say,
"Fear the one who finds no helper against you (in your
wrongdoing) except Allah."
The history of nations has left us with poignant examples of
what lies in store for the oppressor. There was the case of ' Aamir ibn
ai-Tufayl, who plotted to assassinate the Prophet (bpuh), who in tum
312 Such is the Seizure </your Lord

supplicated against him. Forthwith, A 'amir became afflicted with an


enlarged gland, and after an hour of screaming and writhing from
pain, he <lied a most painful death.
Arbad ibn Qays \vas wretched enough to have similar plans, and
the Prophet (bpuh) supplicated against him as well. Allah sent
lightning down on Arbad, scorching both him and his mount.
Shortly before Al-l:Iajjaj executed Sa'eed ibn Jubayr (may Allah
be pleased with him). the latter supplicated and said, "O' Allah, do
not empower him over anybody after me". Al-ljajjaj became
afflicted with an abscess in his hand, which then quickly spread
throughout his body. He experienced so much pain that he began to
moan and moo like a cow, until finally, he died in a pitiable state.
Sufyan ath-Thawri was in hi ding for a period of time because of
threats from Abu Ja' far al-Manoor. Abu Ja' far was heading for the
Ka 'bah in Makkah while Sufyan was already within the precincts of
the Ka'bah. H e clung to the curtain of the edifice and prayed to Allah
fervidly not to allow Abu Ja'far to enter His house. Abu Ja'far died
j ust before reaching the outer limits of Makkah.
Al).mad ibn Abi Du'aad al-Qaqi al-Mu'tazili took part in
inflicting harm upon I mam Al)mad ibn J:Ianbal. Imam Al).mad prayed
against him, and so Allah punished Ibn Abi Du'aad by making him
paralyzed on one side of his body. He was heard to have said
a fterwards,
"As for half of my body, if a fly were to land on any part of it, I
would feel that the Day of Judgment had commenced. As for
the other half, i f it were to be cut up into pieces by a pair of
scissors, I would not feel anything."
Imam Al)mad, \.vho was greatly wronged and harmed for a
period of time, al so prayed upon another of his transgressors, 'Ali ibn
Zayyat. Only a short period of time passed before someone tortured
and killed lbn Zayyat by putting him into an oven and hammering
Such is the Sei:ure ofyour Lord 313

nails into his head.


During the reign of Jamal 'Abdul Nair, I:Iamza al-Basyounee
tortured many Muslims in prison. He wickedly scoffed, '"Where is
your Lord so that I can put him in steel?" Far above Allah is from
what the oppressors say! A truck smashed into l:famza's car killing
him, and appropriately, the ttuck was transporting rods of steel. One
rod of steel entered his body from the top of his head until it made its
way down to his bowels. The rescue team was unable to extract him
from the car except in pieces.
And he and his hosts were arrogant in the land, without right, -
and they thought that they would never return to Us)
(Qur 'an 28: 3 9)
M nd they said: 'Who is mightier than us in s trength ? ' See they not
that A llah, Who created them, was m ightier in strength than them.
(Qur 'an 4 1 : 1 5)
Similar is the case of Salal). Nar, who was a general of 'Abdul
Naair and who was known for perpetrating evil and oppression
throughout the land. H e became sick with ten painful and chronic
<liseases. He lived for many years in misery and the doctors could
find no cure for him. In the end, he <lied ignominiously as a prisoner
in the very jails of those leaders whom he u sed to serve.
Mnd those who did transgress beyond bounds in the lands [in the
disobedience of A llah]. And made therein much mischief So your
Lord poured on them different kinds of severe forment.
(Qur 'an 89: 1 1 - 1 3)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Verily, Allah prolongs the life of the oppressor until
when He takes him, there is no escape."
And he (bpuh) also said:
"Beware of the supplication of the oppressed one, for
verily, between it and Allah, there is no veil ( or
3 14 The supplica 1 ion of rhe uronged

barrier). "

The supplication of the wronged

Ibraheem at-Tamimi once said:


"When a man wrongs me, I pay him back with an aet of
mercy. "
When some money was stolen from a righteous man who lived
in Khurasaan, he began to weep. Fu'9ayl, who saw him in that state,
asked, "Why do you cry?" H e answered, "I remembered that Allah
shall gather me and the thief together on the Day of Judgment, and I
cried, feeling pity for him. "
A man slandered a scholar from the early generations of Islam.
In return, the scholar gave him a gift of dates, and when l ater asked
about the gifts, he said,
"Because he did good to me (i.e. on the Day of Judgment the
man would have to give him some of his good deeds or take
from him some of his bad ones ) " .

The importance of having a good friend

Every Muslim needs a helpful, loving brother - to tum to, to


share joys and hardships with, and to reciprocate affection.
And appointfor me a helper from my family: Haroon [Aaron}, my
brother. Increase my s trength with him, and let him share my task [of
conveying Allah s Message and Prophethood}. That we may glorify
You much, And remember You much. (Qur 'an 20: 29-34)
They are but Awliya [friends, protectors, helpers, etc.} to one
another. (Qur 'an 5: 51)
Veri(v, A llah loves those who fight in His Cause in rows [ranks} as l
they were a solid structure) (Qur 'an 61: 4)
In Islam, securir_v is a must 3 15

And He has united their [i.e. believers '} hearts. (Qur 'an 8: 63)
The believers are nothing else than brothers fin lslam ic religion}.
(Qur 'an 49: 1 0)
The topic we are now discussing is pertinent to the subj ect
matter of this book because having a good and worthy companion
brings j oy to the heart. The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon
him) related that Allah, said:
"Where are the ones who love each other because ofMy
Exaltedness (i.e. who love each other for the sake of
Allah)? Today I will provide shade for them in My
shade - a day wherein there is no shade except for My
shade . "

In Islam, security is a must

" for them [only} there is security and they are the guided.
(Qur 'an 6: 82)
[Hej Who has fed them against hunger, and has made them safe
from fear. (Qur 'an 1 06: 4)
Have We not establishedfor them a secure sanctuary [Makkahj. "
(Qur 'an 28: 5 7)
" . whosoever enten; it, he attains security ) (Qur 'an 3: 9 7)
" . then grant him protection" . P (Qur 'an 9 : 6)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon h im) said:
"Whoever spends his night safely in his home, with a
healthy body and enough provision for his day, it is as if
he has gained the world in its entirety. "
Security of the heart is the faith and sureness o f knowing the
truth. Security of the home is its freedom from shame and deviation
and its being replete with tranquility and Divine guidance. Security
of our nation is its being united with love, being founded upon
316 Fleeting g/ory

j ustice, and in its app l ication ofthe Shari'ah. And fear is the enemy of
security:
So he escaped from there, looking about in a state offear )
(Qur 'an 28: 2 1)
. . . so fear them not, but fear Me) (Qur 'an 5: 3)
Based on the abovementioned categories of security, there is no
true peace and security for the frightened one or for the disbeliever.
By Allah, how pitiable is the life of this world! If you are
prosperous in one fac et of your life, you are sure to be miserable in
another. Ifwealth comes on one hand, sickness arrives on the other. If
your body i s healthy, some other form of difficulty will arise. And
when everything seen1s to be going well and you finally feel a sense
of stability, you are ready to be put into a coffin.
A poet, named A l -A 'shaa from Najd, was heading toward the
Prophet (bpuh) to laud him in verses of poetry and to accept Islam.
Abu Sufyan met him on his way and offered him one hundred camels
to desist from continuing on his mission and to go back home. H e
accepted the offer and set off with the camels. To make the return
joumey, he mounted one of the camels, but it soon tumed wild and
threw him off, causing him to land on his head, and upon impact, his
neck snapped and he died. He parted from this world without having
achieved either religious or worldly gain.

Reeting glory

Happiness, if it is of the ttue kind, must be perpetual in its


presence and complete in its magnitude. In terms of always being
present, I mean that it should never be interrupted by worry and that it
should exist for one, both in this world and in the Hereafter. Its
completeness is realized when it is neither spoiled nor diminished by
troubles or worries.
Fleeting glor_r 317

An-Nu'maan ibn al-Mundhir, who was king of Iraq, sat under a


tree to relax and to drink alcohol. He called 'Adee ibn Zayd, a wise
man, to come and advise him. 'Adee said, "O ' King, do you know what
this tree says?" The king said, "No, what does it say " . 'Adee replied:
"Many people sought rest around me,
To drink wine mixed with pure water,
Soon after, time began to play with them (i.e. some harm befell
them),
And time is such: always changing from one state to another. "
Being tormented by the eventuality described to him, the king
became embittered; he quit drinking and he remained miserable until
he <lied.
As the Shah of Iran celebrated the passing of two thousand five
hundred years since the establishment of the Persian Empire, he
began to make plans for expanding the scope of his power to lands
outside of his reign. Then, in the blink of an eye, he was toppled from
power:
You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom
from whom You ivill. (Qur 'an 3: 26)
Chased from his castle and his world, he died in exile as a poor
man in a far-off country. No one shed tears for him.
How many of gardens and springs have they [Pharaoh s people}
leji. And green crops [fields etc.] and goodv places, and comforts of
life wherein they used to take delight! (Qur 'an 44: 25-2 7)
A similar case is that of Chaucesco, the former president of
Rumania. He ruled for twenty-two years, and h e had 70,000 personal
guards. But in the end, it was his own people who surrounded his
castle. They tore apart his body one limb after another.
Then he had no group or party to help him against A llah, nor was he
one of those who could save themselves.l (Qur 'an 28: 8 1)
3 18 Pe1form ing lirtuous deeds is the crm111 ...

Thus he died without anything to show for his long reign: no


worldly goods did he take with him and no prospect of prosperity in
the H ereafter.
Another example is the former leader ofthe Philippines, Marcos.
H e gathered wealth and power for himself while heaping misery
upon his people. In tum, Allah made him to feel that same misery as
he was driven away from his country, his family, and his power. With
no sanctuary to tum to, he died ignominiously: even his own people
refused to allow him to be buried in the Philippines.
Did He not make their plot go astray? (Qur 'an 1 05: 2)
So A llah seized him with punishmentfor his last [(i.e. his saying: 'I
am your lord, m ost high ')(See Verse 79: 24)} and first [(i.e. his
saying, 'O ' chiefs ! I know not that you have a god other than I ') (See
Verse 28: 38)} transgression) (Qur 'an 79: 25)
So We punished each [of them} for his sins) (Qur 'an 29: 40)

Perfonning virtuous deeds is the crown


on the head of a happy life

To attain happiness and peace you must be from those who


hasten to do virtuous and beautiful deeds. The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Strive toward that which benefits you and seek help
from Allah . "
A Companion o f the Prophet Muhammad asked him to b e one of
his Companions in Paradise. He (bpuh) replied:
"Help me to help you by prostrating often, for Allah will
raise you by one degree for every prostration that you
make for Him. ''
Another Companion asked the Prophet (bpuh) to inform him of
one deed that was comprehensive of much good. He (bpuh) told him:
Peforming virtuous deeds is the croirn " . 319

"That your tongue should remam moist with the


remembrance of Allah. "
In response to a third such seeker of good, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Don 't curse others and don 't hit others with your hand.
If someone were to curse you regarding something that
he knows about you, don 't curse him regarding
something that you know about him. And don 't
disparage any kind of good deed, even if that deed
consisted of pouring some water from your bucket into
the container of the one who seeks drink. "
(4nd march forth in the way [which leads to} forgivenessfrom your
Lord, and for Paradise. . . (Qur 'an 3: 1 33)
Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds . . .
(Qur 'an 2 1 : 90)
And those foremost [(in lslamic Faith of Monotheism and in
performing righteous deeds) in the life of this world on the veryfirst
call for to embrace 1')/am}, will be foremost [in Paradisej)
(Qur 'an 5 6: 1 0)
Do not delay when it comes to doing good and righteous deeds.
And for this let [all} those strive who want to strive [i. e. hasten
earnestly to the obedience of A llah}. (Qur 'an 83: 2 6)
After being stabbed, and while his blood was gushing out,
'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said to a young man who
was dragging his lower garment on the ground, "O' son of m y
brother, lift up your garment, for to do so is more righteous and purer
for your clothes. " Even during the pangs of death he invited others to
do good!
To any of you that chooses to go forward [by working
righteous deeds}, or to remain behind [by committing sins}.
(Qur 'an 74: 3 7)
320 Peforming virtuous deeds is the crown . . .

Verily, happiness is not achieved by sleeping much, by seeking


comfort, or by being averse to doing good deeds.
But A llah was averse to their being sentforth, so He made them lag
behind, and it was said [to them}, 'Sit you among those who sit [at
home}. (Qur 'an 9: 46)
The logic of downtrodden and lethargic souls is:
And they said: 'March not forth in the heat. ' (Qur 'an 9: 81)
Who say to their brethren when they trave! through the earth or go
out to fight: '{( they had stayed with us, they would not have died or
been killed. ' (Qur 'an 3: 156)
We are prohibited from lagging behind when it comes to doing
good deeds:
What is the matter tt ith you, that when you are asked to march forth
in the Cause of A llah [i. e. Jihad} you cling heavily to the earth ?
(Qur 'an 9: 38)
There is certainly among you he who would finger behind [from
fighting in A llah s Causej) (Qur 'an 4: 72)
" . but he clung to the earth" ) (Qur 'an 7: 1 76)
t4 m I not even able to be as this crawl (Qur 'an 5: 3 1)
That is because theJ loved and preferred the life of this world over
that of the Hereafte1: (Qur 'an 1 6: 1 0 7)
t4nd do not dispute [with one another} fest you !ose courage and
your strength departs) (Qur 'an 8: 46)
And when they stand up for the prayer, they stand with laziness .. )
(Qur 'an 4: 142)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"O' Allah, I seek refuge in You from laziness."
The wise person subdues his self and works for what comes after
death. A weak person obeys his self in its desires, and though he
performs no deed tha t is worthy of reward, he keeps vain and false
hopes in Allah.
Ever/astingncss and Paradise are there . and not here! 321

Everlastingness and Paradise


are there, and not here!

Do you wish to stay young, healthy, rich, and immortal? I f you


desire these things, you will not find them in this world; however,
you can find them in the Hereafter. A llah, the Exalted, has decreed
misery and impermanence for this world. He called this life a trifle
and an enjoyment of deception.
There is a we11-known poet from long ago, who for the greater
part of his life lived a li fe of penury. In the p rime o f his youth, he
wanted money and could not get it. He wanted a wife too, but he
failed in that pursuit as well. When he became old, with white hair
and brittle bones, he became rich. Many women were now w il ling to
marry him and he lived a comfortable life. The irony of his story is
that he was poor when he was able to enjoy all comforts and that he
became rich when he could no longer enjoy the pleasures of life. H e
composed these verses in the latter part of h is life :
"What I desired to own when I was only twenty,
Came into my possession after tuming eighty.
Young Turkish girls now surround me,
Singing and wearing silks and jewels.
They say, 'Your moans keep us awake all night long,
So what is it that you complain of?' I said, 'Of being an
octogenarian. '''
'Did We not give you lives lang enough, so that whosoever would
receive admonition, - could receive it? And the warner came to
you" . (Qur 'an 35: 3 7)
. and they thought that they would never return to Us)
. .

(Qur 'an 28: 39)


nd this life of the world is only amusement and play !
(Qur 'an 29: 64)
322 Enemies (l the Divine 1rny

"The example of this world is that of a rider who seeks


shade under a tree - to rest for a short period of time -
and then he gets up and leaves. "

Enemies of the Ihvine way

As I was reading material written by proponents of atheism, it


became clear to me that those writers blatantly showed enmity
toward the principles of the true Religion. From what I read from
those writers, and from what I perceived in terms of their ill manners
and lack of humility. I feel shy even to relate what they said and
wrote.
Suffice it to say I realized that a person who does not have
principles and who does not attribute a correct meaning to life
becomes transfonned into an animal possessing only the shape and
appearance of a man.
Or do you think that most af them hear ar understand? They are
only like cattle; - n ay, they are even farther astray from the Path
[i. e. even worse than cattlej) (Qur 'an 25: 44)
I asked myself how is it possible for them to be happy despite
their having tumed away from Allah, Who owns happiness and gives
it to whomsoever H e pleases. How could they be happy after having
severed the rope between them and Him and after having shut the
doors o f Allah's vast mercy upon their own weak selves? How could
they find happiness and comfort after having eamed His anger and
after having waged war upon Him?
I grasped that the first punishment they receive is one that is
inflicted upon them i n this life as an introduction or prelude to the
greater punishment ( that is, if they fail to repent) of the Hereafter.
This harbinger of p unishment includes misery, general apathy, a
feeling of being constricted, and a sense of hopelessness.
The reality ql this !(fe 323

'But whosoever turns awayfrom My Reminder [i.e. neither believes


in this Qur 'an nor acts on its orders, etc.] Verily, for h im is a life of
hardship". (Qur 'an 20: I 24)
Many people who are from this category wish that their life
would end. Some common factors between atheists of old and
present-day atheists are: a lack of appropriate manners with A llah, an
arbitrary approach to deciding upon values and principles, and a lack
of knowledge - or a feigned lack of knowledge - of the evil end
results of their actions. In addition they share a general lack of care
for what they say, do, or write.
Is it then he, who laid thefoundation ofhis building on piety to A llah
and His Good Pleasure, better, or he who laid the foundation of his
building on an undetermined brink of a precipice ready to crumble
down, so that it crumbled to pieces with him into the Fire ofHeil. And
A llah guides not the people who are the aalimoon [cruel, violent,
proud, polytheist and wrongdoer}. (Qur 'an 9: 1 09)
The only solution available to these staunch atheists if they wish
to depart from their worries and problems is - if they don 't repent
and follow true guidance - to commit suicide and thus end their
bitter and lowly existence.
Say, 'Perish in your rage. ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 1 9)
" .and kil! yourselves, that will be better for you" . P (Qur 'an 2: 54)

The reality of this life

One will be happy to the degree that one remembers A l lah and
recites His Book. And after considering this principle, o ne may
estimate his worth in this world and in the H ereafter.
And were it not that all mankind would h ave become of ane
community [all disbelievers, desiring worldly !(fe onv}, We would
have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Beneficent
324 The reality <( this l(/'e

[Allah}, silver roofs for their houses, and elevators [and stair-ways,
etc. ofsilver} whereby they ascend. And.for their houses, doors [af
silve1}, and thrones [af silver} an ivhich they could recline, And
adornments of gold. Yet all this [i.e. the ro(fs. doors, stairs,
elevators, thrones etc. af their houses} would have been nothing but
an enjoyment ofthis world. And the Herea.fier with your Lord is only
for the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much.
(Qur 'an 43: 33-35)
These verses proclaim in clear terms the temporal)', therefore
insignificant, worth of material possessions and social status.
We should realize that this life is not the yardstick of success
when we see that the disbeliever often lives a life of opulence while
the believer is often precluded from many worldly pleasures, a
phenomenon that merely indicates the paltl)' value of this world.
While giving a sermon on a Friday, 'Utbah ibn Ghazwan (may
Allah be p leased with him), a well-known Companion of the Prophet
(bpuh), was reminiscing out loud about what the days were like when
he lived with the Prophet (bpuh). 'Utbah would fight with him in the
way of Allah, and to avoid starvation, he would eat with him the
leaves of a tree. Yet he remembered those days to be the happiest of
his life. Then he reca lled how he departed from the Prophet (bpuh),
becoming a govemor of a province. And despite this rise in worldly
status, he felt wonder at how much lower the true quality of life
became after the death of the Prophet (bpuh).
After the death of the Prophet (bpuh), Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqaas
(may Allah be pleased with him) felt bewildered and confused when
he became govemor of Kufah. During the Prophet's lifetime, he too
would eat tree leaves or the skin of a carcass. He could not bear the
castles ofhis new li fe after having tasted the pleasure ofhis old one in
the company of the Prophet (bpuh).
The reality qf" this life 325

[And indeed the Hereajier is betterfor you than the present [life o.f
this worldj) (Qur 'an 93: 4)
Therefore there is a secret to guide you in this life - and that is
to know the triviality of this world.
'4.Do they think that We en/arge them in wealth and chi/dren, We
hasten unto them with good things [in this worldly lfe so that they
will have no share af good things in the Herea.fter} ? Nay, but they
perceive not) (Qur 'an 23: 55-56)
When he entered the house of the Prophet (Blessings and Peace
be upon him), 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) saw marks on
the Prophet's side, which resulted from always lying down on straw,
and he also noticed the bareness of the room. His eyes swelled with
tears after seeing such a moving sight. The Messenger of Allah
(bpuh), the example and leader of all, in such a situation ! It was too
much for him.
And they say: ' Why does this Messenger [Muhammad} eat food,
and walk about in the markets [like ourselves}. (Qur 'an 25: 7)
H e said, 'You know, O' Messenger of Allah, of the lifestyle of
Khosrau and Caesar! ' The Prophet (bpuh) replied:
"O' son of Khattab, are you in doubt. Are you not
pleased that for us is the Hereafter and for them is this
world."
It is a just balance and a fair distribution. So let them find their
happiness in dollars, gold, silver, mansions, and cars if they can.
Verily, by Allah, they wilI never find it in those things.
Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter; to them We
shall pay in Juli [the wages o.fl their deeds therein, and they will have
no diminution therein. They are those for whom there is nothing in
the Hereafter but Fire; and vain are the deeds they did therein. And of
no e.ffect is that which the_v used to do. (Qur 'an I l : 15- 1 6)
326 The key to happiness

The key to happiness

Tf you know A llah and worship Him, you will have found
happiness and peace. even if you are living in a hut made of mud.
But if you deviate from the true path, your life will truly be
wretched, even if you are living a li fe ofluxury and comfort in a large
mansion. If this latter case applies to you, then you do not have with
you the key to happiness.
And We gave him ofthe treasures, that ofwhich the keys would have
been a burden to a body of strong men) (Qur 'an 28: 76)

Pause to rejlect

Truly, A llah defends those who believe) (Qur 'an 22: 38)
In other words, He protects them from evil, both in this world
and in the Hereafter. In this verse, Allah enlightens us, wams us, and
gives us glad tidings. He repels evil from the believers in proportion
to their faith. The evil of the disbelievers, the evil whispers of the
Devil, the evil in their own selves, and the evil oftheir deeds - all of
these does A llah ward off from the true believers. When calamity
falls, its burden will be lightened from them. Every believer has a
share in this divine protection. Yet it varies according to one's level of
faith: some will receive less, others more.
Among the fruits of faith is that it gives solace to the believer in
times of hardship.
" . and whosoever believes in A llah, He guides his heart.. )
(Qur 'an 64: I l)
This refers to the believer who is aftlicted with hardship, who
knows that it is from Allah and that it was written for him. He is
satisfied and submits his will to what has been predestined for him.
Thus, the fatal blow o fhardship will lose its effect on him because he
How they used 10 live 327

knows that it came from Allah and that he wil l be rewarded for his
patience.

How they used to live

Let us go back and take a glimpse at how one of the Prophet's


Companions would spend his day. 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be
pleased with him), who was married to Faarimah (may Allah be
pleased with her), the daughter of the Prophet (Blessings and Peace
be upon him), woke up early one moming with his wife and searched
for food. But there was nothing in their humble home to be found.
This occurred on a bitter cold day of winter, so 'Ali put on some
warm clothes and left. He searched through all of the precincts of the
city and finally he remembered a Jew who owned a garden. When
'Ali reached the garden, the Jew said, "O' Arab. come and harvest the
dates for me and for each large bucket that you fill, I will give you a
single date. " And so he to i led for a period of time until his bands hurt
and his body ached. He took the paltry number of dates that he eamed
and went to the Prophet (bpuh) to share them with him. With
whatever was left over, he and Faatimah sustained themselves for the
rest of the day.
This was their life. Yet what may seem to be a contradiction to
the material minded person is that their homes were replete with
illumination and happiness.
Their hearts were filled with the noble principles that were
revealed to the Prophet (bpuh). Through the spiritual i llumination of
their hearts, they perceived the truth and accepted it, while they
recognized falsehood and rejected it. They worked in the path of the
former and they steered far away from the latter. They came to realize
and grasp the true value and worth of things .
328 What the wise say about patience

Where is the happiness of a man like Haamaan; he is still cursed


for his wrongdoing.
As the /ikeness <( vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is
pleasing to the ti/ler, afterwards it dries up and you see it turning
yellow; then it becomes straw. (Qur 'an 57: 20)
True happiness i s with Bilal, Salmaan and 'Ammar; Bi lal was a
caller to the truth, Salmaan was truthful, and 'Ammar was faithful in
fulfilling his obligations.

What the urise say about patience

The foliowing words are ascribed to Anusherwan:


"Calamity in this life is of two kinds. The first kind allows for a
way out: worrying is its remedy. The second kind permits for
no solution or way out: patience is its cure . "
I t i s also said that, "Whoever follows patience, success will
fol low h im . "
I t has also been said :
"Strive to remain alive by seeking out death. For how many
have remained because they sought out death and how many
have perished who preferred to stay ! And safety most often
comes after treading the path of uncertainty. "
The Arabs would say:
"Veril y, even in evil, there are degrees of better and worse. '
Abu ' Ubaydah explained the meaning of this expression,
saying, "If you are afflicted with a hardship, know that you
could have been hit with far worse. I f you have such an
outlook, you will be better able to deal with the hardship. "
A way out o f difficulty most often comes when hope i s lost:
Th ey are those from whom We shall accept the hest of their deeds
and overlook their evil deeds. [They shall be} among the dwellers of
Wlwt the 1rise say about patience 329

Paradise, a promise of truth, which they have been promised.


(Qur 'an 46: 1 6)
[They were reprieved} until, when the Messengers gave up hope and
thought that they ivere denied [by their people}, then came to them
Our Help" ) (Qur 'an 12: 1 1 0)
Truly! Allah is with the patient ones) (Qur 'an 2: 1 53)
Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in ful!,
without reckoning. (Qur 'an 39: I 0)
Sometimes Allah brings success and reliefwhen hope is lost and
all seems dark. This is in order to encourage us to tum our hopes to
Him, to trust completely in Him, and to never lose hope of His help at
any time. Also, when afflicted, one should be satisfied with the
knowledge that he was afflicted with something minor and was saved
from what could have been worse.
Islfaaq said,
"Perhaps Allah tests a slave with a calamity but then saves him
from destruction. Thus, the calamity is really a great blessing
(in disguise). "
It has been said that whoever forbears a h ardship, and is content
with Allah's decree by being patient, then some bidden benefit or
blessing will come about for him through that experience.
It has been related from some Christians that one of their
prophets said:
"Calamities are a disciplining from Allah; disciplining is not
something that is continuous. So glad tidings to whoever is
patient when disciplined. Such a person should be crowned
with the crown that symbolizes both overcoming and victory
- the victory that Allah promised to the ones who love Him
and obey Him. "
IsQ.aaq also said:
"Beware of complaining if you are caught in the sharp claws
330 The importance <f a positive attitude

of a hardship, for the way to safety is a difficult path to


tread. "

The importance of a positive attitude

A writer j ustly said:


"Verily, hope encourages and steers one towards patience;
hope arises from having a good opinion of Allah; hope in
Allah precludes the possibility of failure. But why should we
be so confident that hope in Allah precludes the possibility of
failure? I f we were to study the characteristics of generous
people, we would find that they take special care ofthose who
think well enough of them to tum to them for help. They will
also tend to eschew those who think ill of them. What is
important here is that they refrain from hurting the hopes of
those who single them out for help. Then what will be the case
regarding the Most Generous One, Whose kingdom is not
decreased in the least when He gives even more than what the
hopeful ones expected from Him in the first place ! "
A person who finds no way out of a difficult situation illustrates
the most poignant example of Allah 's generosity and guidance for
one of His slaves. After Iosing all hope in everyone that he turned to
for help, he is forced to remember that there is one door that remains
open and that he should hope in no one save in Allah, the Exalted. At
that point, he feels the chastisement for not having hoped from Allah
in the first place, and at that point, aid and relief arrive.
Verily, those whom you call upon besides A llah are slaves like you.
So call upon them and let them answer you ?f you are truthjul)
(Qur 'an 7: 1 94)
A few words on patience 33 1

A few words on patience

Ibn Mas'ood (may Allah be pleased with him) is related to have said:
"Relief and aid are from faith and contentment. Anxiety and
grief are from doubt and anger. "
He also used to say:
"The patient one achieves the best of aims . "
Abban ibn Taghlab said:
"I heard a Desert Arab say, 'One of the noblest of
characteristics becomes manifest when one is afflicted by a
trial and then uses patience to overcome that trial. His patience
and hope affect him positively; it is as if he constantly
visualizes himself being saved from his problem; his state o f
mind i s positive to such a high degree because of h i s trust in
Allah and his good opinion of Him. Whenever one p ossesses
these characteristics, he will never have to wait long for Allah
to fulfill his needs and remove hardship from his life. H e will
be saved, and his religion and honor will remain safe . "'
Al-Asma'ee related that a Desert Arab said:
"Fear evil when you find yourself to b e in a good situation;
hope for good when you are in an evi l situation. Many have
lived who have sought after death and many have died who
have sought after life. And safety comes most often for a
person after he has followed the path of fear. "
Some of the wise would say:
"The wise person, when affiicted b y hardship, consoles
himself in two ways. The first is to be contented. The second is
in hoping for a way out of the difficulties that have befallen
him. The ignorant person is shaken and nervous in situations
of hardship in two ways. The first is in the number of peopl e
from whom h e seeks aid. The second i s in his constant fears
332 Pause to re.ficct

and apprehensions about that which is worse than what has


already befallen him."
And as I mentioned earlier, it has been said that Allah, the Exalted,
disciplines us through trials, a form of education that opens hearts,
ears, and eyes.
Al-f:Iasan ibn Sahl described trials as being a wake-up call for
the forgetful ones, a means of achieving reward for the patient ones,
and a reminder of blessings for everyone. And the decree of Allah is
always better, especially for those who, through their bravery, appear
to be seeking out death - who are searching for a life of
remembrance, and who are unlike those that are described in the
following verse:
[They arej the anes who said about their killed brethren while they
themselves sat [at home}: 'lf only they had listened to us, they would
not have been killed. ' Say: 'Avert death from your ownselves, (fyou
speak the truth. ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 68)

Pause to reflect

Jfyou are su.ffering [hardshipsj then surely, they [tao} are suffering
[hardshipsj as you are sujfering, but you have a hopefrom A llah [for
the reward, i. e. Paradise} that for which they hope not")
(Qur 'an 4: 104)
For the reason mentioned in this verse, the true believer has a
high level of tolerance when he is aftlicted with calamity. Patience,
steadfastness, serenity, and a sincere des ire to fulfill one 's duty as a
slave of A llah - these are qualities that you can find in a true believer.
Ma'qil ibn Yasaar (may Allah be pleased with him) related that the
Prophet (bpuh) said:
"Your Lord, M o st Blessed and Most High, says: O' son
of Adam, Dedicate your time to my worship and I will
Don 't grieve (f'.i -ou are poor. . . 333

fill your heart with wealth and your hands with


sustenance. O' son of Adam, don't distance yourself
from Me or I will fil l your heart with poverty and your
hands with problems that will preoccupy you. "

Don't grieve if you are poor, for your -true


value is not determined by your bank balance

'Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said:


"The (true) value of every person is weighed according to the
good that he does . "
Therefore the value o f a scholar is based on his knowledge, on
whether it is limited or vast, and on the degree to which he
disseminates his knowledge. Similarly, the poet is appraised based on
the quality of his poems. And so it goes for every person of every
occupation: his worth with people is measured by his excellence in
what he does. In terms not of occupation but of religion and li fe in
general, everyone shou]d strive to increase the ir value and worth by
performing good deeds, by increasing their knowledge and level of
wisdom, by cultivating and polishing their mind, and by developing
noble traits in their personality.

A word on reading

Reading opens the mind, guides one to correct morals, and


sharpens one's ability to think. Reading is a comfort for the lonely, a
stimulant for the thinker, and a lamp for the traveler.
To not read makes one limited in one's speech, thinking, and
personality. Most books contain at least some benefit, whether it is in
wise sayings, interesting stories, strange experiences, or new
knowledge. It can even be said that the benefits of reading are beyond
334 Don 't be sad, and study A llah 's signs in the creation

enumeration. And we seek refuge in Allah from one of the greatest of


calamities: to have \Veak determination and will power.

Don't be sad, and study Allah's


signs in the creation

If you study A llah 's signs in the world and universe you will find
such things of wonder that will remove your worries and anxieties:
the soul finds delight in the strange, the wonderful, and the bizarre.
Bukhari and Musl im narrated a hadith from Jaabir ibn ' Abdullah
(may Allah be p leased with him), who said, "The Messenger of Allah
sent us on a mission and appointed Abu 'Ubaydah to be our leader.
We were to meet with a caravan from Quraysh. Since he could find
nothing else, the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) provided us only with a
container of dates for the journey. So from the day we left onward,
Abu 'Ubaydah would give us (each) one date for each day. "
The narrator o f the hadith asked Jaabir what they would do with
the dates. H e said, "We would suck on one of the dates the way a
child does. Then w e would drink water over it. This was enough for
us until the night fell. We would then strike at the leaves of trees with
our sticks, wet the leaes, and then eat them. We were hiking on the
shores of the sea when we saw something that looked like a huge
sand-hill from a distance. As we came nearer, we realized that it was
a large sea creature called Al-Anbar (whale fish). Abu ' Ubaydah said
that it was an animal that died without being slaughtered (therefore it
was not lawful). He then said, 'No, we are the messengers of the
Messenger of Allah, w e are in the path of Allah, and now we are in a
dire situation - so eat, all of you. "'
"We, all three hundred of us, lived off of this creature for one
month until we became fattened. I remember how we took spears and
thrust them into the eye socket of the creature. From inside the socket
Don 't he sad, and study Allah 's signs in the creation 335

we scooped out pieces of fat, the size of a bull . So large was the
creature that when Abu 'Ubaydah asked thirteen of our men to line
up in the eye socket of the creature, there was enough space to
accommodate them all. He also took one of its ribs and erected it on
the ground. Then he found the tallest camel, made our tallest man to
ride on it, and they were able to pass underneath the rib . Finally,
when we left the site, we took provisions from the meat for the return
joumey. When we arrived in Madeenah, we went to the Messenger of
Allah (bpuh) and told him what happened, and he said,
'This is sustenance that Allah has taken out ( of the sea)
for you. Do you have any of its meat with you to feed us
from it?' We sent some to the Messenger of Allah and
he ate from it. '"
'Dur Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
guided it aright. ' (Qur 'an 20 : 50)
When a seed is placed in the ground, it will not grow until the
ground shakes ever so slightly. The Richter scale picks up this minor
jolt. The seed then splits and begins to grow:
We send down water [rain} on it, it is stirred [to l(fe], it swells and
puts .forth very lovely kind [o.f growth}. (Qur 'an 22: 5)
'Dur Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
guided it aright. (Qur 'an 20: 50)
Dr. Zughlool an-Najjar, a researcher in cosmology, mentioned in
one of his lectures that there is a comet that began its j oumey eons
ago. Though it travels at the speed of light, it still has not reached
earth.
So I swear by Mawaqi ' [5etting or the mansions, etc.} of the stars
[they traversej) (Qur 'an 56: 75)
'Dur Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
guided it aright. (Qur 'an 20: 50)
336 Don 'r be sad. and stud_v Allah 's signs in the creation

An amazing incident that was reported by the newspaper Recent


Happenings in 1 953 is the story of 'Ona' . Ona, entering Paris
guarded by many policemen, was a gigantic Norwegian stuffed
whale that weighed more than 80,000 kilograms. Eight tractors
carried the mammoth-sized monster, all tied together to a transport
trailer. The whale was to be put on display for a period of one month,
and visitors were going to be allowed to enter its electrically
illuminated belly.
The organizers and police were unable to agree on a venue for
the display since the s ize and weight of the creature posed a threat to
the structure of any building or street that it was going to be displayed
m.

Despite the young age ofthis whale (eighteen months) it reached


a prodigious length of twenty meters. It was caught in Norwegian
waters in the previous year and it was to be transported for display via
train from one city to another. Due to the problems of its size and
weight, it had to be transported by a special trailer that was thirty
meters in length.
{ 'Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
guided it aright. (Qur 'an 20: 50)
Abdur-Razzaaq a-Sana'ni related from Ma'mar ibn Raashid al
Bari that he said, "I saw in Yemen a cluster of grapes that was the
size of a full load that is placed on a mule."
And tal! date-palms, with ranged clusters. (Qur 'an 50: 1 0)
All trees and plants are nourished by the same kind of water:
Yet same of them We make more excellent than others to eat)
(Qur 'an 13: 4)
Every plant is endowed with a defense system that is specific to
it. Some are strongly built; some have thoms with which they protect
themselves; and yet others are bitter and sting.
'Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
Don 't he sad. and study Allah 's sign.\ in the creatio11 33 7

guided it aright. 'j} (Qur 'an 20: 50)


Astronomers say that the Universe is still expanding little by
little. similar to the way that a balloon expands.
With power did We construct the heaven. Verily, We are A ble to
extend the vastness of space thereo.f (Qur 'an 5 1 : 4 7)
Others say that while dry land is constricting, the oceans are
expanding.
See they not that We gradually reduce the land [in their controlj
from its outlying horders ? (Qur 'an 2 1 : 44)
'Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
guided it aright. ' (Qur 'an 20: 50)
In 1 982, Fay$al magazine reported the story of a cabbage that
weighed 22 kg and was 1 m in diameter. In the same farm, they found
an onion that weighed 2.3 kg and was 30 cm in diameter, as well as a
tomato that was 60 cm in circumference. All of these anomali es were
found on the farm of a single Mexican farmer.
q 'Dur Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
guided it aright. '}> (Qur 'an 20: 50)
In the head are four liquids: sweetness in the mouth that mixes
well with food and drink; stickiness in the nose that prevents dust
from entering; saltiness in the eyes that prevents dryness; and
soumess in the ears that protects one from insects and from harm in
general.
And also in your ownselves. Will you not then see? (Qur 'an 5 1 : 2 1)
'4And [Allah] taught you that which you knew not. (Qur 'an 4: 1 1 3)
Allah Has taught man that which he knew not. (Qur 'an 96: 5)
And Allah has brought you out from the wombs af your mothers
while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight and
hearts". (Qur 'an 1 6: 78)
And We taught him the making ofmetal coats ({mail [for battles}. . .
(Qur 'an 2 1 : 8 0)
338 0 ' A llah! 0 ' A llah!

!Nay, they deny that,- the knowledge whereof they could not compass
and whereof the interpretation has not yet come unto them)
(Qur 'an 1 0: 39)
A nd not an A ayah [sign, etc.} We showed them but it was greater
than its fellow. . ) (Qur 'an 43: 48)
4 'Dur Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then
guided it aright. ' (Qur 'an 20: 50)
The heart does not feel dese11ed except when it disobeys its
Lord. I:Iasan al-Bari said: "O' son of Adam, when Prophet Moosa
(Moses) objected to Khic;lr (i.e., to his actions) on three occasions, the
l atter said, ' This is the parting between you and me. ' Then how will it
be with you who disobey your Lord many times in a single day? Do
you feel so secure (and sure) that He will not say to you, ' This is the
parting between you and Me. '"

0' Allah! O ' Allah!

Say [O ' Muhammad}: 'Allah rescues you from it and from all
[other} distresses. . . 'l (Qur 'an 6: 64)
Is not A llah Sufficient for His slave? (Qur 'an 39: 36)
Say [O ' Muhammad}: 'Who rescues you from the darkness of the
(Qur 'an 6: 63)
land and the sea [dangers, like storms}. . .
A nd We wished to do a favor to those who were weak [and
oppressed} in the land.. ) (Qur 'an 28: 5)
Allah, the Exalted, said about Adam (may peace be upon him):
Then h is Lord chose him, and turned to him with jorgiveness, and
gave h im guidance. (Qur 'an 20: 122)
And about Prophet NooI:i (Noah):
We listened to his invocation and saved him and his fam ily from
great distress) (Qur 'an 21: 76)
And about Prophet l braheem (Abraham):
O ' A llah! O ' A /h! 339

We [Allah} said: 'O 'fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim ! 'P
(Qur 'an 2 1 : 69)
And about Prophet Ya' qoob (Jacob):
4It may be that A llah will bring them [back} all to me. P
(Qur 'an 12: 83)
And about Prophet Yusuf (Joseph):
'He [Allah} was indeed good to me, when He took me out of the
prison, and brought you [all here} out of the Bedouin-lffe. . . '
(Qur 'an 12: 1 00)
And about Prophet Dawood (David):
4So We forgave him that, and verily, for him is a near access to Us,
and a good place of [final} return [Paradise}..) (Qur 'an 38: 25)
And about Prophet Ayoob (Job):
And We removed the distress that was on him. . ) (Qur 'an 2 1 : 84)
And about Prophet Yunus (Jonah):
And [We} delivered him from the distress. P (Qur 'an 2 1 : 88)
And about Prophet Moosa (Moses):
But We saved you from great distress .. ) (Qur 'an 20: 40)
And about Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him):
4Jfyou help him [Muhammad} not [it does not matter}, for A llah did
indeed help him . . . (Qur 'an 9: 40)
Did He not find you [O ' Muhammad} an orphan and gave you a
refuge? And He found you unaware [of the Qur 'an, its legal laws,
and Prophethood, etc.} and guided you? And H efound you poor, and
made you rich [se?fsufficient with selfcontentment, etc.}?!
(Qur 'an 93: 6-8)
Every day He has a matter to bring forth [such as giving honor to
same, disgrace to some, lff'e to same, death to same, etc} !
(Qur 'an 55: 29)
Very often, a crisis is only a cloud that quickly disperses.
340 Don 't grieve. for change must take place

None besides A llah can avert it, [or advance it, or delay itj)
(Qur 'an 53: 58)

Don't gneve, for change must take place

When Muhammad ibn al-tfanafiyah was imprisoned in 'Aarim


prison, Kuthay ' ir said:
"The beauty of the world will not last for the affluent,
The harshness of this world is not a fatal blow,
For this one and for that one is a period that will finish,
And what each has undergone will be the dream of a dreamer. "
Centuries after this occurred do I now reflect over what had
happened; and truly, Ibn al-I:I.anafiyah and the 'Aarim Prison are both
the dreams of a dreamer.
{And how m any a generation befare them have We destroyed! Can
you find a single one of them or hear even a whisper of them ?
(Qur 'an 1 9: 98)
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"The rights shall be paid back to all ( on the Day of
Judgment); even the sheep that has no horns will get its
retribution from the homed (beast). "

Do not gi,ve pleasure to your


enemy by displaying grief

By being sad, you give pleasure to your adversary, which is why


our religion commands us to instill awe in to the hearts of the enemy.
. . . to threaten the enemy o.lA!lah and your enemy. " (Qur 'an 8: 60)
On the day of Ul:iud, when Abu Dujanah (may Allah be pleased
with him) was prancing between the rows of the Muslim army, the
Prophet (bpuh) said:
Op timlwn \'ersus skepticism 34 1

"Verily, it is a way of walking that Allah hates, except in


this situation. "
And when the disbelievers were observing the Muslims from
hilltops, the Prophet (bpuh) ordered the Companions to jog around
the Ka'bah in order to display their strength and endurance.
And on that Day, the believers [i. e. Muslims} will rejoice [at the
victory given by Allah to the Romans against the Persians}.
(Qur 'an 30: 4)
The enemies of the truth feel pain when they find out that we are
happy or joyful.
Say: 'Perish in your rage. ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 1 9)
Jf good befalls you [O ' Muhammad}, it grieves them " )
(Qur 'an 9: 50)
They des ire to harm you severely. (Qur 'an 3: 1 1 8)
The Prophet (bpuh) said:
"O' Allah, Don 't allow the enemy or the jealous one to
rejoice at my misfortune. "
An Arab poet said:
"A young man can forbear every kind of misfortune,
Except for the enemy's joy in his affliction. "
Our pious Muslim predecessors would s1nile, be patient, and
display tolerance in the face of hardship, in orde r to thwart the jealous
one and the one who gloats over another's grief.
But they never lost heart for that which did b efal! them in A llah ,
Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves) (Qur 'an 3: 146)

Optimism versus skepticism

As for those who believe, it has increased their Faith, and they
rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease [of doubt,
disbelief and h_ypocri!)y}, it will add suspicion and doubt to their
342 Opt im ism versus skepticism

suspicion, disbelief and doubt, and they die while they are
disbelievers) (Qur 'an 9: 124-125)
When faced with a difficult or harsh situation, the righteous
M uslims from the early generations of Islam were positive in their
attitude, positive that. though they were facing difficulties, there was
benefit to be had, harm to be warded off, and ease to be met with
when rounding the corner of time:
.. and it may be that you dislike a thing which is goodfor you and
.

that you like a thing which is bad for you) (Qur 'an 2: 216)
Abu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"I love three things that are hateful to people: I love poverty,
sickness, and death. I love them because poverty is humility,
sickness i s expiation for sins, and death results in a meeting
with Allah . "
Some ofthe Arab poets were extreme in their hate for poverty, as
can be discemed from the following line, wherein the poet claims that
even dogs hate poor people:
"On a given day, if it sees the poor and indigent one,
It growls and shows its teeth in mocking. "
Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) said conceming being imprisoned:
'O ' my Lord! Prison is more to my liking than that to which they
invite me. ' (Qur 'an 12: 33)
As for death, t here were many among the righteous who
welcomed it. Mu'aadh (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"Welcome death - a beloved one has come in time of need. And
the one who regrets (his sins during his lifetime) is successful."
Others, though, fled from death and cursed its approach. The
Jews, for example, are the most covetous of people when it comes to
life. A llah, the Exalted, says of them:
Say [to them}: ' Veriv. the deathjiom which youflee will surely meet
you . . . ' (Qur 'an 62: 8)
0 ' son <f' Adam, do not despair 343

Being killed in the way of Allah is a dream and pleasant wish for
the righteous:
Some havefuljilled their obligations [i. e. have been martyred}, and
same of them are still waiting" . (Qur 'an 33: 23)
Meanwhile others hated death and fled from it. A Desert Arab said :
"By Allah, I ' d hate to die while being on my bed, s o how can I
be expected to seek death out in the frontlines. "
qSay: 'Avert death from your ownselves, if you speak the truth. '}
(Qur 'an 3 : 1 68)
qSay: 'Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom
death was decreed would certainly have gane forth to the place of
their death. ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 54)
The story throughout h istory is one: it is merely the actors who
change.

O' son of Adam, do not despair

O' man: man who is bored of life, who finds it difficult to pass
the days, and who has tasted the bitter vicissitudes of li fe, remember
that ease follows difficulty, that Allah 's promise i s true, and that, if
you are true and sincere, victory is near.
[It is} a Promise of Allah, and Allah fails not in His Promise, but
most of men know not) (Qur 'an 30: 6)
For your dilemma - whatever it may be - there is a cure, and
for your difficulty - whatever it may be - there is a solution.
'A ll the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has remmedfrom us
[all} grief (Qur 'an 35: 34)
0' Man: the time has come for you to remedy your doubts with
faith and your deviant thoughts with guidance. You must remove the
veil of darkness that covers you so that you can see the brightness of a
true sunrise; you must supplant the bittemess of sorrow with the
344 0 son af A dam . do not despair

sweetness of contentment.
O' Man: beyond the dry desert that you are crossing you will
find green pasture an d fertile soil. The fruits therein grow profusely
from all directions.
O' Man, who b ecause of sleepless nights, screams in the late
hours of the night, remember this:
Is not the morning near? (Qur 'an 11: 81)
0' whose mind has wandered in grief, move to action without
haste, for upon the horizon ofthe unseen lies a solution and a way out
of your difficulties. 0 ' you, whose eyes are loaded with tears, repress
your tears and give leisure to your eyelids. Relax and know that your
Creator protects and aids, and that His Mercy for you will bring you
peace. B e peaceful in mind, O' slave of Allah, for the divine decree is
written and all matters have been decided upon. And know that your
reward is secure with He Who doesn't disappoint the one who seeks
to please Him.
Be at peace, for after poverty comes wealth, after thirst comes
drink, after separation comes a joyous meeting, and after
sleeplessness comes sound rest.
You know not, it may be that Allah will afterward bring some new
thing to pass) (Qur 'an 65: 1)
0' you who are oppressed in the lands, who suffer from hunger,
pain, sickness and poverty, rejoice in the knowledge that you will
soon be satisfied with food and that you will be happy and in good
health.
And by the night M 'hen it withdraws, And by the dawn when it
brightens) (Qur 'an 74: 33-34)
Every Muslim must have good thoughts about his Lord and must
wait patiently for His favor, for the One Who has the power to say
'"Be" to something and it is, is worthy to be trusted in regards to His
promise. No one can bring good except for Him and no one can ward
Pause to re.fle<" 345

off evil except for Him. For every action H e has wisdorr. and after
every hour He brings ease. He made morning to follow tht night and
rain to follow dryness. He gives to be thanked and He put to trial to
know - and He has knowledge of all things - those who are
patient. Therefore it is in the hest interest of the Muslim to il:rengthen
his relationship with his Lord and to ask Him more fre:t uently.
. . . and ask Allah of His bounty ) (Qur tin 4: 32)
lnvoke your Lord with humility and in secret) (Qur an 7: 55)
Al-'Ala' ibn al-Hadhrami and some Companiors of the
Messenger of Allah (bpuh) became stranded in the midile of the
desert. Their water supply became depleted and they were all on the
verge of dying. Al-'Ala' called out to His Lord, Who is Al ft-Hearing
and Who answers the prayer of the one who asks Him. Hi; said, "O'
Most-High, Most-Great, O' Most Wise and Most Benev1) lent. " At
that very moment, the rain started to pour down. They dn.nk, made
ablution, bathed, and gave drink to their animals.
And He it is Who sends down the rain after they have despz.ired, and
spreads abroad His Mercy. And He is the Wali [Helper, )upporter,
Protector, etc.}, Worthy of all Praise) (Qur 'a-,i 42: 2 8)

Pause to reflect

Loving Allah, knowing Him, remembering Him, seehLng peace


m Him, singling Him out for complete love, fear, lope, and
dependence - these are qualities that, when combined in .a person,
constitute a sort of heaven on earth. They are qualities ti1at bring
peace to those who love Allah, a sort ofpeace that has no c-0rnparison
in this world.
If the heart is content and has a strong attachment ito Allah,
anxiety and grief will be removed from it. And vice ver: no one
feels more constricted with grief than someone whose heart is
346 B!essings in di.xuise

attached to other than Allah - someone who forgets Allah 's


remembrance and who is not satisfied with what He has given him.
We can verify this real ity by s tudying cases of those who have passed
before us.

Blessings in disguise

And indeed We have destroyed towns [populationsJ round about


you) (Qur 'an 46: 2 7)
There i s the tragic example of the Barmak family, a family that
lived a life of opulence, comfort, and extravagance. Their end,
however, has served as a lesson and example for all Arabs who came
after them. Haroon ar-Rasheed, the ruler during their period, ordered
an unexpected attack on the B armak family and on their possessions.
Al lah 's decree came to pass over them in the moming at the bands of
the c losest person to them: he destroyed their homes, took possession
of their slaves, and shed their blood. Their loved ones and children
wept at their disgrace. There is none worthy of worship except Allah;
those who know the story should especially appreciate the transitory
nature of power and wealth in this world:
Then take admonition, 0 ' you with eyes [to seej) (Qur 'an 59: 2)
Only one hour be fore their downfall, they were strutting in silks,
full of j oy and complacency, feeling secure from harm, unaware of
the vicissitudes of life.
'And you dwelt in the dwellings of men who wronged themselves.
and it was clear to you how We had dealt with them. And We putforth
[manyj parables for you. ' (Qur 'an 14: 45)
They swaggered in their life of play; however, sadly for them,
they mistook the mirage for water and this life for etemal existence.
They wrongly thought that j ustice would not overtake them and that
vindication would not come about for the wronged.
Blessings in disguise 34 7

. . . and they thought that they would never return to Us.


(Qur 'an 28: 39)
They woke up that moming in a state of j oy but by the time the
night had fallen, they were in their graves. In a moment of anger and
caprice, Haroon ar-Rasheed unsheathed the sword of wrath upon
them, killing Ja'far ibn Yal:tya al-Barmaki, by h anging him on a cross
and then buming his body. He imprisoned his father Ya]:iya and his
brother Al-Fa<;ll. Their wealth was confiscated. Their p l ight was
moumed over by many Arab poets. One of them said:
"When I saw the sword mixed in Ja' far,
And a caller announced the news of Yal).ya to the Khaleefah,
I moumed over this world and I came to truly believe
That in the near horizon is a day when a boy will depart from
this world,
It is nothing but one country and mier supplanted b y another,
The event of misfortune follows the appointment of blessings.
If this one dwells in the high mansions of a king,
Then that one sinks to the lowest depths of misery. ''
But as for the present, where is Haroon ar-Rasheed and where i s
the Barmak family? Where i s the murderer and where is the
murdered? Where is the one who ordered the killing while he was
lying down on a bed in his castle? And where is the one who was
crucified? Yesterday and the actors of yesterday are both gone. But
the Most Just will j udge between them on a Day about which there is
no doubt, a Day wherein there shall be neither wrongdoing nor
injustice.
'The knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in a Record. My Lord is
neither unaware nor He .forgets. (Qur 'an 20: 52)
The Day when [all} mankind will stand befare the Lord of the
'A alameen [mankind, jinns and all that exists} . (Qur 'an 83: 6)
348 Bfessings in disguise

That Day shall you be brought to Judgment, not a secret o.fyou will
be hidden. P (Qur 'an 69: 18)
Yal).ya ibn Khalid al-Bannaki was asked concerning this
calamity, "Do you k now its cause? ' ' He said, "Perhaps it was the
supplication of someone whom we wronged, a prayer that traveled
quickly through the night while we were unaware of it. "
'Abdullah ibn M u ' aawiyah ibn ' Abdullah ibn Ja'far said in jail
about his imprisonment:
"We have departed from the world and we are still of its
inhabitants,
We are neither from the dead nor from the living,
If the jai l guard comes in for one reason or another,
We are astonished and say: This one has come from the world,
Overj oyed do 've become after seeing a dream, because most
of our talk
When we wake up is about the dreams we saw,
I f it was a good one, ever so slowly it comes to pass,
And when it i s bad, it waits not but comes with speed. "
There i s a good deal of cynicism in the last two lines; after
reading them, I am reminded of the words of Al-Jaal).i?:
"When the mai lman brings news to us,
Concerning some evil event he loses no time and makes haste,
Thus, when ev il, it arrives after a day and a night,
And when it is good, it takes its time and anives after a week. "
A Persian king once imprisoned a wise man, who wrote to him
saying, "Every hour that I pass in here, I come doser to ease and you
to wrath. So I wait for better times. Meanwh ile, you are promised a
bitter humil iation . "
After reaching the summit of opulence and extravagance, lbn
'Abbaad, the Sultan of Andalusia, faced a crisis. At a time when
frivolity and musical instruments and dancers became prevalent in
Blessings in disguise 349

his castle, the Romans attacked him, and so h e sought aid from the
Sultan of Morocco, Ibn Taashfeen. The latter c rossed the ocean with
his army and brought with him victory. Ibn 'Abbaad treated him as an
honored guest, allowing him to treat his castles and gardens as if they
were his own. But Ibn Taashfeen was observing the situation like a
lion, and he had other plans.
After only three days, Ibn Taashfeen and his army attacked the
weakened kingdom of Andalusia. Ibn ' Abbaad was taken captive and
his properties were seized. His castles and gardens were destroyed
and he was transported to his home province o f Agmaat as a prisoner.
qAnd so are the days [good and not so good}, We give to men by
turns. (Qur 'an 3: 140)
The dominion of Andalusia fell into the hands of Ibn Taashfeen:
he claimed that the leadership was rightfully his, since it was the
people of Andalusia who had summoned him from Morocco in the
first place.
Much time passed, and then one day the daughters of Ibn
'Abbaad managed to visit him in prison. They c ame barefoot, hungry,
wan, and in tears. When he witnessed their pathetic situation, he cried
out:
"In past days I would rejoice on special occasions,
But what a miserable occasion is it in Agmaat as a prisoner.
You see your daughters emaciated and hungry,
They stitch for people and they own nothing.
They come to see you fearful and weak,
With sad eyes and broken hearts,
Traveling on mud barefoot,
As if those feet never trampled on prec1ous perfume and
roses. "
So when Our Commandment came, We turned [the tovvns ofSodom
in Palestine} upside down . . ) (Qur 'an J / : 82)
350 The fiuits of contentment

':l Verily the likeness of [this} worldly /fe is as the water [rain} which
We send down fro m the sky, so by it arises the intermingled produce
of the earth of which men and cattle eat until when the earth is clad
with adornments and is beauti.fied, and its people think that they have
all the powers of disposal over it, Our Command reaches it by night
or by day and We make it like a clean-mown harvest, as if it had not
flourished yesterday! (Qur 'an J O: 24)

The fruits of contentment

Allah is pleased with them and they with Him) (Qur 'an 5: 1 1 9)
Contentment bears many blessed fruits. More than anything else,
by being contented w ith that which is decreed, one is able to soar to
the highest levels of faith and truthfulness.
Some might wish for only good to befall them, for only pleasant
things to occur in thei r lives, but that is not what being Allah's slave
means. Many of the true believer's characteristics, which include
patience, total dependence, contentment, humbleness, and
submission of one's will, only become manifest when one is
confronted with something that one dislikes. So being p leased with
that which has been decreed does not mean being contented with
only those things that suit one's disposition; the real gauge for true
contentment are those times when one goes through a painful
situation. And it is not for the slave to dictate the terms of
p reordainment; he can be happy or discontented and it makes no
difference except that by being discontented, he is sinning. Human
beings do not have much of a choice in regards to the divine decree:
the choice and decision thereof belong only with Allah. He is All
Knowing and Most High.
Being pleased with A llah 35 1

Being pleased with Allah

We should know that if we are pleased with Allah, He is pleased


with us. Therefore if you are pleased with a small amount of
sustenance, H e will be pleased with you for your smalt deeds. And if
you are pleased no matter what the situation, then you will find that
you have earned your Lord 's p leasure, and you will realize that A llah
is most pleased with sincere people who are content. On the other
band, there are the hypocrites: Allah rej ects their deeds, regardless of
whether those deeds are many or few. They are displeased with what
Allah sends down and they hate seeking His pleasure. Thus their
deeds are performed in vain.

For the malcontented there is wrath

By being dissatisfied with one's situation and by thinking


inappropriate thoughts about Allah, one opens the doors of anxiety
and grief. On the other hand, contentment with one's situation and
with Allah's Decree opens the door to a paradise on earth even befare
that of the Hereafter. To question and complain about what has been
decreed cannot result in self-contentment and i nner peace. Instead, it
is by submission and acceptance that we can bring about those
propitious results, because the One Who sustains all things should
never be accused concerning what He has decreed. I still remember
the story of Ibn ar-Rawandi, the well-known atheist philosopher. H e
saw a common ignorant man who lived in castles and who was very
wealthy. Ibn ar-Rawandi turned to the sky and exclaimed, "I am the
philosopher of my generation yet I live in poverty, while this ignorant
commoner is rich. This is a random and strange distribution . " A llah
then increased Ibn ar-Rawandi in his misery, hmniliation, and poverty.
352 Th e henefits one reaps by heing contentcd

. . . but surev the tonnent of the Hereafter 1'vill be more disgracing,


and they will never be helped. (Qur 'an 41: 1 6)

The benefits one reaps by being contented

During hard times, if one remains contented with one's situation,


one is able to remain calm and composed, but moreover, one shows a
true belief in the promise of Allah and his Messenger (bpuh). It is as
i f his heart has a voice that says:
'This is what A llah and His Messenger [Muhammad} had promised
us, and A llah and His Messenger had spoken the truth, ' and it only
added to their faith and to their submissiveness [to A llah}.
(Qur 'an 33: 22)
In contrast, the malcontented heart is filled with sickness, doubt,
and instability; such a heart remains rebellious and troubled. It is as if
thi s heart too has a voice, but the words it speaks are ever so different:
'A llah and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusions I
(Qur 'an 33: 1 2)
The people who possess this kind of heart are contradictory in
their dealings. If they have rights upon another, they hurry to claim
their rights. Yet if they are sought after to fulfill their obligations, they
turn away in disdain. When good befalls them they feel calm and
complacent, but when they are put to the test, how sudden is their
change for the worse ! They are those who have lost not only this
world, but also the Hereafter.
That is the evident Ioss) (Qur 'an 22: 11)
So those are two opposites which yield results that are equally
opposite in nature: contentment leads to peace, which eventually
leads to prosperity; re sentment about Allah 's decree leads to anxiety,
which eventually leads to failure. You must remember that from the
greatest of blessings that Allah can give to one of his slaves is
Do not chalfenge your Lord 353

bestowing tranquility upon him, and one of the best ways of


achieving tranquility is being contented and pleased with Allah at all
times.

Do not challenge your Lord

By being contented, one is saved from being like those who


challenge their Lord in His decrees and ruling s . To understand this,
one needs only look at the case of lblees (the Devil). He argued and
disputed with his Lord because he was displeased with His decree
and ruling. Those who refuse to believe in Allah only do so because
they seek to challenge Him in might and power instead of submitting
to Him. Then they abandon His orders, perpetrate what is unlawful,
and challenge His divine decree by showing resentment.

A just decree

Allah's ruling is binding upon His slave: it will come to pass,


and it is a just ruling, as mentioned in the hadith:
"Your decree conceming me will be carried out, and
You are Just with me in Your Ruling . "
Allah, the Most High, has forbidden Himsel f from being unjust
with his slaves. Indeed it is people themselves \Vho do wrong and are
unjust.
The above-mentioned hadith, "And You are Just with Me in
Your Ruling" also includes the decree of sinning, in its effect and its
punishment. Allah is the Most Just regarding His decree for sinning
and for its punishment. He may have ordained a sin for one of His
slaves for reasons that are beyond our grasp. There might be a
purpose which, due to its being so profound i n its ramifications, is
known only to Him. And that is the belief of the Muslim.
354 Resentment \"ieili no return

Resentment yields no return

Being resentful about one's situation generally issues from two


possibilities. Either it is caused by not achieving what one desires, or
by the occurrence of what one hates. Yet if one truly believes that
whatever has passed him by was never meant for him, and whatever
afflicted him was always meant to be, then he has no reason to feel
disgruntled. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (Blessings and
Peace be upon him), said:
"The pen has dried conceming what you will meet with,
0' Abu Hurayrah. The ordaining is finished with, the
decree is completed, the measure of things has been
written, the pens are raised, and the pages have dried. "

Safety is in contentment

Contentment offers safety in that the contented heart is healthy


and free from deceit, corruption, and rancor. And it is only a sound
and healthy heart that will be saved from Allah 's punishment, a heart
that is safe and free from doubt, disbelief, and the various tricks ofthe
devil. Such a heart is only concemed about how to please Allah.
Say: 'Allah [sent it down}. ' Then leave them to play in . their vain
discussions. (Qur 'an 6: 91)
Bittemess and resentfulness are concepts that are foreign to the
healthy heart, and so, the more one is contented with Allah 's Decree,
the more healthy and sound one's heart will be. Wickedness,
corruption, and deceit accompany discontent, while a healthy heart,
righteousness, and sincerity accompany contentment. Also, jealousy
is another o f the fruits of discontent.
Being p l eased with Allah is a quality that is like a good tree that
is nourished by the water of sincerity in the garden of pure l slamic
Dissatisfaction is the door to doubt 355

Monotheism. Its roots are faith and its branches are good deeds. It is a
tree bearing fruit that is fresh and sweet. The Prophet (bpuh) said :
"One has tasted the taste of faith i f one i s p leased with
Allah as his Lord, with Islam as his rel igion, and with
Muhammad as a Messenger. "

Dissatisfaction is the door to doubt

Dissatisfaction opens the door that leads to doubt in Allah: in His


Decree, in His Wisdom, and in His Knowledge. Rarely is the
complainer free from these accompanying doubts that mix within his
heart and permeate his being. If he were to de lve deep into his self
with honest introspection, he would find his faith to be infirm and
questionable. Contentment and faith are like brothers that accompany
one another; meanwhile, doubt and discontentment have a similar
fratemal relationship. Tirmidhi related that the Prophet (bpuh) said :
"Ifyou are able to show contentment with faith, then d o
s o . I f not, then verily there is much goodness in patience
with that which the self hates. "
So those who are dissatisfied are resentful on the inside, and also
angry, even if their anger is not expressed in words. Inside them
mingles an assortment of questions, such as why has this happened,
or how could this be?

Satisfaction is richness and safety

Whoever fills his heart with satisfaction regarding the Divine


Decree, Allah fills his heart with richness, safety, and comfort. And
whoever becomes dissatisfied, then his heart \\'ill be filled w ith the
opposite, and his heart will be preoccupied with matters that clash
with happiness and success.
356 The fl u i t qf' contcnlmcnl is tlwnkfit!ness
.

Therefore contentment empties the heart of all superfluous


carriage, thus leaving it entirely for Allah. Discontent removes from
the heart all thought of Allah. And so there is no real life for the
resentful, complaining person who always feels that he is shifting
from one problem to the next. H e feels his sustenance to be
insufficient, his luck poor, his problems manifold, and above all, he
feels that he is deserving of more. Basically, he is discontented with
what A llah decreed for him. How then can such a person find
comfort, peace, and a good life?
That is because the_v followed that which angered Allah, and hated
that which pleased Him. So He made their deeds fiuitless.
(Qur 'an 47: 28)

The fruit of contentment is thankfulness

Contentment leads to thankfulness, which is among the highest


lev els of faith. In truth, it is the reality of faith. The epitome of all the
differing levels of righteousness is thankfulness of Allah. And the
one who is not content with Allah 's favors and rulings and with His
giving and His taking away is not thankful to Him. Indeed, the
thankful person is the most blessed and prosperous of people.

The Jruit of discontentment is disbelief

Resentment causes one to deny the favors of Allah. Eventually


perhaps, it could even lead to disbelieving in Allah. If the slave is
pleased with his Lord in all circumstances, what follows necessarily is
being thankful to Hin1. He therefore becomes among the p leased and
thankful ones. But if he is devoid of contentment, he becomes among
the resentful ones and follows the ways of the disbelievers. Falsehood
and deviation in beliefs only occurred because many of Allah 's slaves
Dissati.faction is a trap of the devil 35 7

wanted to become their own gods, to the point that many of them
attempted to dictate to their Lord their wants and desires.
10 ' you who believe! Do not put [vourselves] forward befare Allah
and His Messenge1: (Qur 'an 49: 1)

Dissatisfaction is a trap of the devil

The devil prevails in his subjugation of man most often in two


areas: dissatisfaction and desire. I n these instances he finds his prey
to be extremely vulnerable, particularly when displeasure becomes
deep-rooted. At this point, he says, he does, and he thinks that which
displeases his Lord. For this explicit reason, the Prophet (bpuh) said
upon the death of Ibraheem:
"The heart is sad, the eye sheds tears, and yet we don 't
say anything, except that which pleases our Lord . "
The death o f one 's child i s something that might lead to
resentment in a person 's heart. Hence, the Prophet (bpuh) informed
us that, in such a situation, a situation regarding which most people
are resentful and which causes them to say or do that which is
displeasing to their Lord, they must not say anything except that
which pleases their Lord. If one were to keep the foliowing three
matters at his fingertips when he is displeased and angry about what
has happened to him, then the burden of his calamity will lighten
significantly. They are:
1 . To know and to believe in the wisdom of Allah, and in the faet that
He knows best what is good and beneficial for His slaves .
2 . To be conscious of the great reward and recompense that Allah
promised to the slave who becomes afflicted and is then patient.
3. To know and accept that rulings and j udg1nents are with Allah,
while submission and obedience are for His slaves.
358 Another word on contentment

Is it they who would portion out the Mercy of your Lord?


(Qur 'an 43: 32)

A nother word on conten tment

The desires of one who is contented are subservient to what his


Lord wants from him meaning that which Allah loves and that with
which H e is pleased. Hence, contentment and the blind fol iowing of
one's own desires can never coexist in the same heart. And if one has
a share of the former and a share of the latter, his heart will be
conquered by the stronger of the two.
'A nd I hastened to }ou, 0 ' my Lord, that You might be pleased.
(Qur 'an 20: 84)
Contemplate this hadith:
"Become acquainted with Allah in good times, He will
know you in harsh (times)."
"Become acquainted with Allah," means that you should seek
closeness to Him by being obedient to Him, by being thankful to Him
for His blessings, and by tuming to Him sincerely before hardship
befalls you.
"In good times, " refers to times of peace, safety, blessings, and
good health. "He wil l know you in harsh (times)," by alleviating
your hardship and by giving you an exit from every difficult situation.
It is very important that a special relationship exists in the heart
between the s lave and his Lord, a relationship that allows the slave to
feel so close to his Lord that he requires no other. Thus, he finds
company when he is alone, and he tastes the sweetness of
remembering Him and supplicating to Him. Allah 's slave will
continually face hardship and difficulty until he dies, but if he has a
special relationship w i th his Lord - that of being an obedient slave
- all of the hardships of life will become easy for him.
Over/ooking thefaults q{one 's hro th ers 359

Overwoking the faults of one 's brothers

Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the
foolish [i. e. don 't punish them}. (Qur 'an 7: 1 99)
It is not right for you to forsake your brother because of one or
two faults that you find in him, especially if the rest of his character is
honorable. As we know, perfection for any one of us is unattainab le.
Al-Kindi said:
"How is it that you want your friend to possess a specific
pattem of characteristics when your s oul - which is the
closest of souls to you - does not always obey your
commands. What right do you then have to expect another
person's soul to follow your orders. "
Even as h e is now, so were you yourselves befare till A llah conferred
on you His Favors [i.e. guided you to Islam]. . ) (Qur 'an 4 : 94)
So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows hest him who fears
Allah and keeps h is duty to Him. (Qur 'an: 53: 32)
It is enough for you that you are satisfied with the main part of
your brother's character. Abu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him)
said:
"To reproach your brother for something is better than to lose
him altogether. "
Some of the wise said:
"We are still not satisfied with ourselves , so how then can we
expect ourselves to be satisfied with others . "
I t has also been said:
"Don 't remain aloof from someone who impresses you with a
good character and sound judgment because of some minor
fault that is surrounded by an ocean of virtues. You will not
find, as Iong as you live, a person so c u ltivated that he is free
from blemish and sin. Contemplate your own self and how it
360 Overlooking thefaults <?lone 's brothers

often errs and strays. This kind of introspection makes your


demand on o thers more balanced and makes you more
sympathetic to the sinner. "
An Arab poet said:
"Who is the one whose character is untainted,
Sufficient worthiness for someone is that his defects can be
counted. "
It has been said that one's suspicions conceming one's brother
should not ruin a good mutual trust that has been tested over time.
Ja'far ibn Muhammad said to his son. "O' my son, whoever among
your brothers becomes angry with you three times, and on each
occasion speaks only the truth about you, take him as a close friend. "
A l-ljasan ibn Wahb said,
"From the rights of mutual love is to forgive and overlook
shortcomings. "
So overlook theirfaults with graciousforgiveness. (Qur 'an 15: 85)
Ibn Roomi said:
"These are people and the world, and there is no doing away
with dust
That irritates the eyes or spoils the drink.
From the lack of fairness is to expect refinement
In the world, \vhile you yourself are unrefined. "
And had it not been for the Grace ofA llah and His Mercy on you,
not ane ofyou would ever have been purefrom sins. (Qur 'an 24: 21)
A poet said:
"You seek a cultivated person who is free from defects,
But does the aloe exude a pleasant odor without smoke."
So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows hest him who fears
A llah and keeps h is duty to Him) (Qur 'an 53: 32)
Take advantage cd"health andfree time 36 1

Take advantage of health and free time

You must not waste your health and free time: do not become
remiss in performing deeds of obedience to y our Lord because you
depend on past good actions. Take advantage of your health and free
time by working and striving. Remember that you cannot always
make up for lost time and that sooner or later, you will rue those times
that you have wasted away in idleness. Bazrj amhar said: "If work
causes one to tire, then inactivity causes one to decay. "
One of the wise said:
"Don 't spend your day doing something that will not benefit
you and don 't let your wealth remain idle by not inve sting it i n
some proj ect. For there i s too little time in one's life t o throw it
away on something useless, and one's s upply of money is too
small not to invest it. So the wise one is too j udicious to waste
his time in nonsense and to spend his money in something that
will not bring a return. "
More profound than that is the saying of 'E esa (Jesus):
"Piety is in three: in speech, in sight, and in silence. Whoever's
speech is not in remembrance (of Allah) has spoken nonsense.
Whoever looks without trying to learn a lesson has forgotten
(his true purpose). And whoever's silence is not accompanied
with reflection has been heedless . "

Allah protects those who believe

Every man, whether he admits it or not, is in need of a god, and it


fo llows that that god must possess certain qualities, such as
omnipotence, power, richness, and everlastingness. The One Who
has all of these - and all other perfect qualities - is Allah, the Lord
of all that exists.
362 A llah proteers those irho believe

Therefore the sincere seeker is drawn to and then finds comfort


in his belief in Allah . He is the sanctuary of the weak and ofthe ones
who seek refuge.
[Remember} when you sought help ofyour Lord and He answered
you) (Qur 'an 8: 9)
And He protects [al I}, while against Whom there is no protector,
[i. e. (fA llah saves anyone, none can punish or harm him, and ((A llah
punishes or harms anyone none can save him}. " (Qur 'an 23: 88)
. . . when there will be neither a protector nor an intercessorfor them
besides Him . .
. (Qur 'an 6: 51)
Whoever worships other than Allah, even if he loves Him to a
certain degree, is much worse off than the one who enjoys eating
food that has been poisoned.
Had there been therein [in the heavens and the earth} gods besides
A llah, then verily both would have been ruined. Glor(fied be A llah,
the Lord of the Throne, [High is Hej above what they attribute to
Him! (Qur 'an 2 1 : 22)
The need we have for Allah is shown by the connection sought
by us between the transient and the Everlasting, the weak and the
Almighty, the poor w ith the All-Rich. And whoever does not take
Allah to be his Lord and God will positively take other than Him as a
god. H e will, for example, take pictures, objects oflove, or his desires
to be his deity, and then he becomes the slave and servant of that false
deity. And of this there is no doubt.
Have you seen him who has taken as his god his own desire?
(Qur 'an 25: 43)
Yet they have taken besides Him other gods . ! . . (Qur 'an 25: 3)
In a hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) asked someone:
"How many do you worship?" The man answered, "I
worship seven: six on the earth and one in the heavens. "
The Prophet asked, ''Who from them do you hope from
Allah protects those who believe 363

and fear?" H e replied, "The One in the heavens." The


Prophet said, "Then abandon the ones on the earth and
worship the One in the heavens. "
Know that the need of the slave to worship Allah alone, without
associating partners with Him, is more urgent than the need to
breathe air.
A person 's reality resides in his heart and soul. And neither one 's
heart nor soul is healthy except by worshipping Allah.
"Whoever craves for a meeting with Allah, loves H im,
And Allah will be for him stronger in love,
The opposite holds true for the one who hates. So ask Allah
For His Mercy and Favor, but don't depend (i.e.: on this alone,
but perform good deeds also ). "
Even if one finds pleasure in other than Allah, it is a condition
that will not last, for when one becomes bored with one object or
person, he irmnediately seeks another. He will find b lessings with this
person at one time, and find annoyance and vexation with the same
person at another time. Indeed, he might even come to hate a person
whose company at one time had given him the utmost of p leasure.
As for Allah, one is in constant need of H im, on all occasions
and at all times.
"I wish that You were pleased with me and every human was
with me angry,
I f You are p leased with me, that is the p innacle of my hopes. "
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Whoever pleases Allah by making people angry, Allah
will be pleased with him and He will make them to be
pleased with him. And whoever angers Allah by
pleasing the people, Allah will be angry with him and
He will make the people to be angry with him also. "
364 Signposts on the seeker 's higl11l'ay

tAnd thus We do make the wrong-doers supporters and helpers of


ane another [in committing crimes etc.}, because of that which they
used to earn. (Qur 'an 6: 1 2 9)

Signposts on the seeker's highway

I f one wants to know whether one is climbing upwards toward


success, there are certain signs and indications that can help him to
detennine his progress.
1 . As one becomes more knowledgeable, one becomes more humble
and merciful to others. Think of an expensive pearl: the more heavy
and valuable it is, the deeper it is in the ocean. A wise person knows
that though knowledge is a gift, Allah tests the one whom He gives it
to. When one is thankful for the gift of knowledge, one will he raised
in ranking.
Allah will exalt in degree those ofyou who believe, and those who
have been granted knowledge) (Qur 'an 58: 11)
2. The more one perfonns good deeds, the more one becomes
cautious and fearful, i n the sense that he does not feel secure from
error, such as a slip of the tongue or a change ofheart. He is always in
a state of watching over himself and of heing wary. He is like a
careful hird: each time it lands on a tree, it soon leaves it for another,
afraid of the skilled hunter and his hullet.
3 . The older one gets, the less covetous should one be for this world,
for he comes to know with certainty that his time is soon finished.
4. The wealthier one hecomes, the more generous should one be
towards others. The wealthy Muslim must understand that his wealth
is a trust given to him. and that Allah is testing him in that wealth.
5. The higher one's status hecomes in society, the closer should he he
to ordinary people, showing humility and fulfilling their needs.
But there are also signs that indicate wretchedness:
Being h/esscd 1rith honor is also a test 365

1 . The more knowledge one attains, the more haughty and arrogant
he becomes. Such a person 's knowledge is not beneficial. His heart is
empty and his company is heavy to bear.
2. The more he increases in deeds, the more proud he becomes and
the more contemptuous he becomes of others. He doesn't give the
benefit ofthe doubt to anyone except to his own self. Thus, he deems
that he is the only one who achieves salvation while all others are
bound for destruction.
3 . The older he gets, the more avarice and cupidity become part ofhis
character. He gathers, but he never shares. Calamities and misfortune
fail to move him into becoming a benefactor to others.
4. The wealthier he becomes, the more miserly he becomes with his
money.
5. The high er his position in society, the high er his level of arrogance
and haughtiness. The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him)
said:
"The arrogant ones will be gathered on the Day of
Judgment in the form of small ants. People will tramp le
on them with their feet."
In each of the points discussed above, I mentioned same of
Allah 's favors, favors by which He tests His slaves: some of those
slaves will pass the test while others will fa i l it.

Btdng blessed w ith honor is also a test

If one is endowed with power, honor, status, rank, or wealth, he


must realize that he is being tested. When Prophet Sulaymaan
(Solomon) saw the throne of Bilqees (Queen of Sheba) brought
before him, he said:
'This is by the Grace ofmy Lord - to test me whether I am grateji1!
or ungrateful! (Qur 'an 2 7: 40)
366 The enduring treasures

Thus Allah gives a blessing to see who accepts it properly - by


being thankful for it, by preserving it, and by taking advantage of it in
a good way; and to s ee who denies it - by not being thankful, by
wasting away the favor, or even by using it to wage war against the
One Who gave it to him in the first place!
We must understand, therefore, that blessings are trials from
Allah. I t is through trials that the gratitude of the grateful person
becomes revealed while the ingrate becomes exposed. And we must
remember that Allah tests us in good times as well as in bad times.
Ms for man, when his Lord tries him by giving him honor and gifts,
then he says [pujfed up}: 'My Lord has honored me '. But when He
tries him, by straitening his means of life, he says: 'My Lord has
humiliated me! ' Nay! . . ) (Qur 'an 89: 1 5- 1 7)

The enduring t;reasures

The real treasures are those that one takes with him to the
H ereafter. Islam, Eemaan (faith), righteous deeds, Jihad (struggling
or fighting in the cause of Allah), and repentance are all examples of
such enduring treasures:
It is not piety that you turn your faces towards east or west [in
prayers}. Piety is [the quality of} the one who believes in A llah, the
Last Day, the A ngels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in
spite oflove.for it. [Wh o gives it} to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, to the
pom to the wayfarer, to those who ask and to set slavesfree. [Piety is
also the quality of the ane who} per.forms the prayer, and gives the
alms charity, and who fu{fill their covenant when they make it, and
who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment [disease] and at the
time offighting [during the battles}. Such are the people of the truth
and they are A l-Muttaqoon [the pious and righteous persons}.
(Qur 'an 2: 1 77)
Determination can overcOJne insurmountable harriers 367

Detennination can overcome


insurmountable barriers

When someone is possessed of great determination, he can, by


the will of Allah, climb to great heights of virtue.
Among the characteristics of a Muslim i s that he not only has
high and noble aims, but also has strong determination, because
determination is the fuel that propels one to higher virtues.
And determination -- by the will of Allah - will bring great
good to you. People will see you as one who i s leaming, doing good
deeds, working for higher aims - or basically, one who is achieving.
Do not, however, fall into the error of confusing determination
with arrogance. Between the two lies a distance as great as that
between the sky and earth. When one has strong determination, one
rues every missed opportunity, and therefore he is one who is
constantly goading himself on to reach his goal.
Strong determination is a characteristic of those that are
righteous, just, and sincere, while arrogance is a sickness that is
predominant among tyrants and wretched people.
Determination carries one upwards, while arrogance makes one
fall, dragging its victim down to the depths of ignominy. O' students
of knowledge, remain steadfast and resolute i n the path that you are
upon, and do not falter.

Reading in order to learn wisdom

An activity that brings joy to the soul is to read and contemplate


the sayings of the wise, the foremost of them being Prophet
Muhammad (bpuh). Others can in no way be compared to him, for he
was supported by revelation, confinned by miracles, and sent to us
with clear signs.
368 A nd when I am il/, it is He Who cures me

A nd when I am il/, it is He Who cures me

'A nd when I am il!, it is He Who cures me. J (Qur 'an 26: 80)
Here are some bits of advice that have been passed down to us
from the wise regardi ng different issues.
Abqaraat said:
"Stay healthy l onger by working hard, by avoiding laziness,
by abjuring drinking, and by refraining from eating too much."
Some of the wise said:
"Whoever wants health should eat properly and well. He
should drink water moderately. Lying down after eating lunch
and walking after dinner are recommended. And one should be
wary about taking a shower right after filling oneself with
food. ''
Al-I:Jaarith said:
"Whoever wants to stay - and there is no true stay ( meaning
life is transient and will come to an end) - should eat lunch
and dinner early. "
P lato said:
"Five things weaken the body, and at times can even prove to
be fatal: to be poor, to part with loved ones, to drink sour
things, to refuse advice, and to not only be ignorant, but to also
laugh at the wi se. "
Four things weaken the body: talking too much, sleeping too
much, eating too much, and engaging in sexual intercourse too
frequently. Talking too much weakens the strength and sharpness of
the mind and makes one age faster. Sleeping too much blinds the heart,
making one lazy and callous. Having intercourse too often weakens
one's strength and has harmful effects upon the body in general.
F our things destroy the body: anxiety, grief, hunger, and
sleeplessness.
And when I am il!, ir is He fVho cures me 369

Four things bring serenity to the heart: to look at greenery, to


look at flowing water, to see a loved one, and to gaze at fruits upon
the trees.
Four things weaken one's eyesight: walking barefoot, having a
frown on one 's face early in the moming and b efore going to sleep,
crying frequently, and reading words in smal 1 print.
F our things strengthen the body: wearing soft clothing, taking a
shower using water of a moderate temperature, eating sweet and rich
foods, and smelling pleasant odors.
Four things take the mirth and freshness out of one's face : lying,
insolence, asking too many questions imprudently, and perpetrating
evil deeds frequently.
Four things bring light and mirth to one's face: a sense of honor,
fulfilling one's commitments, generosity, and piety.
Four things make others abhor and loathe you: arrogance,
jealousy, lying, and spreading false rumors about others.
Four things make sustenance come to you freely: standing up at
night to pray, making repentance late in the night, giving charity
habitually, and remembering Allah in the first and last part of the day.
Four things prevent sustenance from coming to you: sleeping in
the moming, not praying frequently, laziness. and treachery.
Four things weaken one's mind and understanding: constantly
eating sour foods and fruit, sleeping on one 's back, worrying, and
feeling anxious.
Four things help one to improve one's understanding: having a
light heart, not overfilling oneself with food and drink, adding sweet
and rich foods in moderation to one's diet, and getting rid o f extra
body fat.
3 70 Take your precautions

Take your precautions

In all facets of life, one should take precautions and study the
possible outcomes of every action, because by being careful, one will
have no cause for future self-recrimination. lf the results of one's
endeavors are good, one should thank and praise Allah. lf the results
of one's endeavors are not so good, one should say, "Allah has made
H i s decree and whatever He pleases, He does. "

Verify the facts yourself

The j udicious person is he who, when hearing some news, does


not hurry into j udgment based merely on what he hears. Instead, he
verifies and authentic ates what he hears; he thinks things over and he
consults with wiser and more experienced people. It has been rightly
said that to err by forgiving someone is better than to err by punishing
him.
And afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.
(Qur 'an 49: 6)

&solve to do something and then do it

Everything I have written in this book - including verses from


the Qur'an, sayings from the Prophet (bpuh), verses of poetry,
stories, and sayings o f the wise - calls you to start a new li fe, a li fe
fi lled with hope of a good and blessed ending. However, you will not
be able to benefit fro1n this book without true determination, strong
resolve, and a sincere desire to rid yourself of sadness, anxiety, and
nervousness. And you will do well to remember that Allah singled
out those Messengers that had a strong will:
f There.fbre he patien t [O ' Muhammad} as did the ."vfessengers of
The !(fe (( this world 371

strong will. . ) (Qur 'an 46: 35)


Adam (may peace be upon him) was not from them.
" .but he forgot, and We found an his part 110 firm will-power )
(Qur 'an 20: 1 1 5)
And so is the case with his sons. To imitate one's father is not
wrong, but one should not follow him into sin on the one hand,
without following him in repentance on the other. And it is Allah
alone Who helps us.

The life of this world

One's welfare in the Hereafter hinges upon how one conducts


oneself in this life. It is imperative for every person to bear in mind
the link between this life and the next, for some have wrongly
thought that there is only this world; they spend their time gathering
things and becoming attached to this life, a life that is fleeting. Then
they die with their wishes and aspirations in their chests, unfulfilled
and forgotten.
Sometimes I am amazed at our long-term hopes in this world
at our future expectations for a life in which one may die at any
moment:
No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows
in what land he will die) (Qur 'an 3 1 : 34)
Ask yourself these questions:
1 . Do you really suppose that you will find peace and tranquility
while you are not pleased with your Lord or with His decree, and
while you are discontented with your sustenance and your talents?
2. Have you thanked your Lord properly for His blessings and favors,
to the point that you deserve to ask for other favors? Whoever is
incapable of handling a little is more than likely unable to handle a
lot.
3 72 Hidingfiom eli/ is a temporar_r solu1io11

3 . Why do we not benefit from those talents that Allah has given us,
failing as we do to develop and cultivate them? Had we used those
talents, we could have given to others and contributed to society.
Positive qualities and talents are often buried deep within us. Yet
in so many of us, these talents are buried like expensive minerals
underground - minerals that only the expert can mine, wash, and
polish, making them shine. Therefore, our task lies in mining for our
talents and then developing them.

Hiding from evil is a temporary solution

I read the book A l-Mutawaareen, by 'Abdul-Ghani al-Azdi. An


interesting book, it re lates the stories of those who went in to hiding
because they feared being captured and taken to Al-I:Iajjaj ibn Yusuf,
the ruthless despot of his time.
Abu ' Umar ibn al-'Ulaa said ofhis difficulties, "When Al-J:Iajjaj
threatened me, I fled to Yemen and stayed in a house in A-Sana' a.
At night, 1 would sit o n the roof during the day I remained concealed
inside . " One night, \Vhile on the roof, he heard a man recite:
"Perhaps the s oul is terrified and troubled by a matter,
For which there is a solution like the untying of a knot. "
Abu 'Umar further said, "When the man said 'solution', l felt a
spark of hope and became happy. Then I heard another man explain
the words of the first by announcing that Al-l:lajjaj had died. By
Allah, I don 't know which of the two things made me joyful: the
word ' solution' , or the words, 'l:Iajjaj has <lied' . "
There is only one decision that is binding and must come forth
into existence, and that is the decision of the One in Whose Hand is
the control of the heavens and the earth.
Hidingjiom eril is a temporary solution 3 73

Eve1y day He has a matter to bring forth [such as giving honor to


some, disgrace to some, !fe to some, death to same, etc.].'
(Qur 'an 55: 29)
l
Al-f: asan al-Bari also had to hide from Al-f:lajjaj . When the
news came of the latter's death, Al-f:lasan thanked A llah by
prostrating to Him.
And the heavens and the earth wept not for them, nor were they
given a respite. (Qur 'an 44: 29)
Ibraheem an-Nakha'ee was yet another who went into hiding
because of Al-l:lajjaj . When the news of Al-J:lajjaj 's death came to
him, he wept tears of j oy and said:
"Joy has overcome me to the point that from
The greatness of what caused me joy, I was made to cry. "
And We have made same ofyou as a trialfor others: will you have
patience? And your Lord is Ever All-Seer [o_f everything}.
(Qur 'an 25: 20)
On one occasion, a bird called Al-I:Iummarah flapped its wings
and flew over the head of the Messenger of A llah (bpuh). It was
complaining against someone; the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said:
"Who has tormented this one by (taking its) chicks?
Return to it its chicks . "
Commenting on this, someone said :
"A pigeon came to you with hope in you,
Complaining with a disturbed and trembling heart,
Who was it that informed it that your p lace
Is a sanctuary, and that you are a shelter for the wronged."
Sa'eed ibn Jubayr said, "By Allah, I continued to flee from Al
,
f:Iajjaj for a period of time until I felt ashamed . . Shortly after saying
this, he was brought before Al-l:lajjaj . When the sword was
unsheathed and was raised over his head, he smiled. Al-ijajjaj asked,
''Why are you smiling?" He answered, "While I was in ( deep)
3 74 Remember that you are dealing with the Most ,'v/erc(ful

reflection, a thought entered my mind: I became amazed at your


impudence towards Allah and at His Mercy towards you. " To put
things in that light while being in those circumstances showed a great
deal of fortitude, faith, and trust in Allah 's promise!

Remember that you are dealing


with the Most Merciful

The following hadith moved me deeply when I read it, and I


should not be surpris ed if it has the same effect upon you. A]J.mad,
Abu Ya' la, Al-Bazzar, and At-Tabaraani all related the following:
"Leaning on a cane, an old man came to the Prophet
(bpuh) and said, 'O' Messenger of Allah, I have
perpetrated treacherous and wicked deeds. Will I be
forgiven?' The Messenger of Allah said, 'Do you bear
witness that none has the right to be worshipped except
Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah? '
The man said, 'Yes, O' Messenger of Allah. ' The
Prop bet said: ' Verily, Allah has forgiven you for your
treacherous and wicked deeds.' The man departed and
said, 'Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. "'
There are certai n conclusions, or facts if you will, that one
should take away from this hadith. One of them is the vastness of
Allah 's Mercy. Another is that accepting Islam or making repentance
wipes out past sins. Yet another is this: mountains of sins are nothing
compared to the forgiveness ofthe One Who knows everything. And
finally, it is imperative for you to have a good opinion of your Lord
along with being hopeful of His comprehensive generosity and His
far-reaching mercy.
Optimism 375

Optimism

Ibn Abi Dunya's book lfusn a?-ian Billah contains more than
one hundred and fifty texts from the Qur'an and the Sunnah which
entreat the believer to be optimistic, to repudiate hopelessness, and to
strive towards betterment through work. And here is a promising
faet: those revealed texts that promise good for doing righteous deeds
far outnumber those that wam of impending punishment for
perpetrating evil deeds. And Allah, the Exalted, has given to
everything its measure.

Life is toil

Don't grieve over the vicissitudes of your existence - you


cannot escape hardship.
Life, for the most part, involves work and responsibilities.
Happiness is an exception or only a fleeting phase that comes and
goes sporadically. You long for this life, yet Allah does not want it to
be a permanent abode for His righteous slaves.
lf this world were not a place of trial, it \Vould have been free
from disease and hardship; it would have been a comfortable abode
for the best of men - the Messengers and Prophets. Adam faced
difficulties and troubles until the day he left this world. Nool) 's
(Noah) own people scoffed and ridiculed him. Ibraheem (Abraham)
was tested by the fire and by the command of slaughtering his son.
Ya'qoob (Jacob) was separated from his son and wept until he lost his
sight. Moosa (Moses) endured the tyranny of F ir' aun and afteIWards
the disobedience of his own people. ' Eesa (Jesus) was poor (may
peace be upon them). Muhammad (bpuh) patiently endured poverty
and the impudence of his people, and he poignantly felt the loss of
one of his favourite uncles - f:lamza (may Allah be pleased with
3 76 Pause to ref!ect

him). The Prophet ( bpuh) said:


"This world i s a prison for the believer and a paradise
for the disbeli ever. "
And in a literal sense, there are countless examples of the
righteous, the scholars, and the truthful being imprisoned for their
beliefs.

Pause to re_fiect

Zayd ibn Thaabit (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that
he heard the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) say:
"Whoever's main concem is this world, Allah will
scatter his affairs and afflict him with poverty between
his eyes; moreover, nothing will come to him from this
world except that which was written for him. And as for
those who long for the Hereafter, Allah will unite (and
make smooth) their affairs. He will instill richness into
their hearts and the world will come to them, though it
might do so unwillingly. "
'Abdullah ibn Mas'ood (may Allah be pleased with him)
reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) say:
"Whoever transforms all of his concems into one
concem only - concem for the H ereafter - Allah will
satisfy his demands and needs in this life. As for he who
devotes his concems to worldly matters, Allah will not
care in which valley he perishes."

Treading the middle path saves one from destruction

There are two factors that help one lead a happy life:
1 . Moderation in anger.
One is judged by one 's dominant characteristics 377

2 . Moderation in fulfilling one's desires.


One has to be moderate in fulfilling his desires, lest his desires
and lusts increase to the point of constantly seeking to be satisfied, an
outcome that will lead to his destruction. The same can be said about
anger, for it too can lead to destruction.
What is required in all affairs is moderation. Strength, when in
excess, makes violence and killing easy. And yet ifthere is a shortage
of it, one will not be ab le to defend oneself against transgressors. But
when one uses strength moderately, he can display the qualities of
patience, bravery, and wisdom, each in its proper place and time. The
same goes for desire; if there is too much of it, then wickedness and
licentiousness will prevail; if there is too little of it, then one will
become weak. However, if it is present in due moderation, one will
achieve both chastity and satisfaction.
"Upon you is to follow the guidance of moderation . "
Thus We have made you [real believers of Islamic Monotheism] a
just [and the hest} nation" ) (Qur 'an 2: 1 43)

One is judged by one's dominant characteristics

To be successful means for you to have good qualities which


outnumber and overshadow your bad qualities. When this becomes a
reality in your li fe, you will find that people will shower compliments
upon you, even for qualities that you do not possess. People will not
accept criticism ofyou either, even ifwhat is said about you is true -
a mountain is not increased in worthiness by an extra rock nor is it
diminished by one less rock.
Although here and there I have read criticism of Qays ibn
'Aaim, the generous one of the Arabs and of Qutaybah ibn Muslim,
the famous leader, I have found that criticism and censure of such
people is neither prevalent in books nor accepted by the masses. The
3 78 One 's inborn character

reason for this is that their bad qualities were lost and drowned in
their ocean of goodness. On the contrary, I have read some good
things about Al-Bajj aj , Abu Muslim al-Khurasani, and Al-'Ubaydi.
But nobody remembers such praise nor would anybody believe that
any good qualities were present in the likes of such men. This is
because these qualities are lost in the mass of their evil and wicked
deeds. How perfect and how just Allah is in managing the affairs of
His creation!

One s inborn character

The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:


"Made easy for every thing is that for which it was
created. "
Why then are talents neglected and discarded? Among the most
miserable and wretched of people is the person who wishes to be
somebody else. The intelligent and wise person is he who studies
himself and then fulfils that purpose for which he was created. If it is
to be a driver, he will drive, and if it is to be a farmer, he will farm.
Sebaway', the scholar of Arabic grammar, studied the hadith
sciences, but found it to be too difficult. H e moved on to grammar,
and he became not only an expert but also one of the foremost
grammarians in history. A wise person once said,
"The person who pursues a line that is not suited to him is like
the one who plants a date-palm tree in Damascus, or like the
one who plants a citron in the Arabian Peninsula. "
C onsider this: I:Iassaan ibn Thaabit did not have a voice suited
for being the Caller to Prayer because he was not Bilal, and Khalid
ibn al-Waleed did not distribute the estate of the deceased because he
was not Zayd ibn Thaabit (who was well versed in Islamic
lnheritance Law) (may Allah be pleased with them). So seek out and
It is not enough 10 he merely intelligent . . . 379

determine your place in the scheme of things. An Arab poet said:


"For battles, are warriors that were created for them,
And for books are writers and poets. "

It is not enough to be merely intelligent:


One needs -true guidance as well

While listening to the news, I heard of the attempted


assassination of playwright Najeeb Mal:tfoo?, a Nobel laureate in
literature. As I was listening to the report, my thoughts retumed to
those books of his that I read, and I asked myself this question: In
spite of his obvious clevemess, how did he remain ignorant of the
truth - the truth that reality transcends imagination, that
everlastingness is greater than this transient life, and that divine
principles are more important and higher than human ones?
Is then He, Who gives guidance to the truth, more worthy to be
followed, or he who finds not guidance [h imselj) unless he is
guided?t (Qur 'an 1 0: 35)
He wrote his p lays from his imagination, using his prodigious
ability to visualize, present, and inspire. In the end, however, he
produced nothing but stories that have no basis in truth.
After reading his biography, I grasped an important principle:
one cannot succeed by making others happy at the expense o f one's
own happiness. It cannot be considered correct, never mind sane, to
make others pleased with you whilst you yourself are sad and
miserable. Some writers have praised men of genius, not because
they realized happiness and peace, but because they allowed
themselves to bum on the inside in order to bring i llumination to
others. The true genius, however, is illuminated on the inside first,
and then he shows others the way. He will build a foundation of
guidance and goodness first of all for himself. and then for others.
380 It is not eno uglz lo be merely intelligent . . .

The Hereafter and the world of the unseen - you will not find
these themes in Naj eeb Ma}:ifoo?'s writings. What you will find,
though, is a world o f imagination, dreams, and emotion; his works
are alluring and so they became popular and successful. But where
are the higher aims and noble messages one finds in great works?
Truth be told, you will not find these themes discussed in his books.
!To each-these as ivell as those - We bestow _/i-om the Bounties of
your Lord. And the Bounties ofyour Lord can never be forbidden)
(Qur 'an 1 7: 20)
I concede that Naj eeb MaI:ifoo?'. realized what he had set out to
do, but it is not enough for one to realize what ane always wanted:
what is required is that one fulfils what Allah wants.
rfi.Allah wishes to make clear [what is lawful and what is unlav..ful} to
J'OU, and to show you the ways of those befare you, and accept your
repentance, and A llah is All-Knower, A ll-Wise. A llah wishes to
accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that
you [believers] should deviate tremendously away from the Right
Path . (Qur 'an 4 : 26-2 7)
I cannot say for certain who will enter Paradise and who will
enter the Fire, except a person who has been identified through
revelation as heading towards one or the other. That being the case, I
can only judge people by their sayings and deeds.
But surev, you -ivill know them by the tone of their speech!
(Qur 'an 4 7: 30)
As an afterthought on the subject, what will one benefit if one
becomes a king whi l e his heart is perverse and full of falsehood? If
talent and success do not lead one to salvation, what then are they
good for?
f/' 01U! has inncr heaury. hc lrill discern bcauty " . 38 1

If one has inner beauty, he will


discern beauty in the universe

To be truly happy, one should enjoy the beauty and splendor of


life, an enjoyment that is limited only by the boundaries set forth by
Islam. Allah has created for us beautiful gardens because He is
Beautiful and He loves beauty, and in order for us to study His signs
that are present in His wonderful creation.
He it is Who created for you all that is on the earth. };
(Qur 'an 2: 2 9)
The sweet-smelling odor, the delicious meal, and the awe
inspiring vista these all bring lightness and happiness to the sou l .
Eat afthat which is laitful and good on the earth " ) (Qur 'an 2 : 1 68)
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"What has been made beloved to me from your world
are perfume and women. And the delight of my eye is in
the Prayer. "
Extremes of self-denial and rigid austerity have clouded and
distorted for some the wonders of life. They l ive a life of celibacy,
they purposely live in a state of penury, and they deprive themselves
of food. The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said:
"But I fast sometimes and eat (without fasting) at other
times; I stand (for prayer at night) and I relax; I marry
women; I eat meat. So whoever deviates from my way,
He is not from me. "
It is strange and confusing to see what the adherents of sorne
sects have subjected themselves to; some have abstained from certain
foods; others have given up laughing; and yet others have forbidden
themselves from drinking cool water. It is as though they do not
realize that these actions are tantamount to torturing one's self and to
extinguishing the light of one's sou1.
382 Relief qfter hardship

qSay [O ' Muhammad}: 'Who has forbidden the adoration with


clothes given by A llah, which He has producedfor his slaves, and A t
Tayyibaat [all kinds of lfalaal (lawful things) offood} ? '
(Qur 'an 7: 32)
The Messenger o f Al.lah (bpuh) ate honey, and he is the most
p ious and righteous human being. This is because Allah created
honey to be eaten:
There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying color
wherein is healing for men) (Qur 'an 1 6: 69)
The Messenger o f Allah (bpuh) married a virgin, and he also
married women who had been either widowed or divorced.
Then m arry [other] women ofyour choice, two or three, or Jour. . )
(Qur 'an 4: 3)
H e wore the hest of clothes on religious holidays and on other
occasions as well.
Take your adornment [by wearing your clean clothes}, while
praying and going round [the Tawaaf oj] the Ka 'bah .. )
(Qur 'an 7: 3 1)
The Prophet (bpuh) - whom we must follow and who was sent
with the true Religion - fulfilled the rights of both, body and soul.

Relief after hardship

Hardship, no matter how great and far-reaching it becomes,


never endures or lasts. Rather, the harsher and more difficult one's
circmnstances become, the closer one comes to ease, comfort, and
relief. Then help and aid are forthcoming from Allah. Is not the end
o f every dark night a bright morning?
You are ahovejealousy 383

You are above jealousy

The most blessed of people is the one who desires the Hereafter
and is not jealous of other people for what Allah has given them. H e
is someone who carries with him a message of higher princip les and
he wishes to impart that message to others. If he is unable to help
others, then at least he brings them no harm. Take the Ocean of
Knowledge and the Interpreter of the Qur 'an . Ibn ' Abbaas (may
Allah be pleased with him), as an example. H e managed, through his
lofty manners and his generous soul to transform enemies (Banu
'Umayyah, Banu Marwan, and their supporters) into friends. As a
consequence, more people were able to benefit from his knowledge
and understanding. He filled gatherings with knowledge and the
remembrance of Allah. He forgot the days o f Al-Jamal and A
Siffeen, and he left behind what came before and after those battles.
He proceeded to build and to unite and to repair differences.
Everybody came to love him and he became the "Eminent Scholar"
of the Islamic nation. On the other band there is lbn Zubayr (may
Allah be pleased with him), who was the e pitome of nobleness,
generosity, and sincere worship. He, however, preferred to confront
rather than to give up personal rights, so much so, that he became
preoccupied in this pursuit and consequently many Muslims were
lost. Then the worst of it happened. The Ka'bah became a place of
fighting because his enemies found him in its precincts and many
were slaughtered. Finally, he himself was killed and then crucified.
May Allah be pleased with him and with all of the Prophet's noble
Companions.
And A llah s Command must be fulfilled. (Qur 'an 33: 38)
I do not mean to disparage some and to praise others; I am
merely attempting to study history with an eye for seeking out morals
and lessons. Gentleness, compromise, and forgiveness - these
384 Pause to re/teet

qualities are present only in a minority of people. This is because, to


achieve them and to incorporate them into one's character, one must
repress and even su bj ugate one 's self, forgetting lofty desi res and
ambitions.

Pause to reflect

The Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:


"Acquaint yourself with Allah in good times and He
' will know you in bad times. "
lf a person fears Allah and observes His commands in times of
ease, h e has acquainted himself with Allah. In addition, a special link
or relation will develop between him and Allah. Allah will then know
him during bad times, meaning that He will help him because of his
obedience to Him during good times. "Acquaint yourself" , and, "He
will know you", suggest a special kind ofknowledge, one that points
to closeness between Allah and H is believing slave and to love of
A llah for that slave.
Patience, when truly applied, has the effect of changing
misfortune into a blessing. It is all a matter of one's perspective and
frame of mind. For Allah does not test us in order to destroy us, but
rather to assess our patience and degree of faith. This is because Allah
has a right to be worshipped in bad times just as He has the right to be
worshipped during times of ease and well-being. Most people are
faithful in their duties and responsive to commands when things are
going well and in accordance to their inclinations. A crucial point to
understand is that the true test is often to worship and follow
commandments that are contrary to one 's liking. And in this regard
people differ in their faith. How they perform in those situations will
determine their ranking with Allah.
Knml'le<f.gc ;,\' the key to serenity and ease 385

Knowledge is the key to serenity and ease

Knowledge and an easy-going nature are like two inseparable


companions : if the first is present, the other can be counted upon to
accompany it. If you study the lives of Islam 's greatest scholars, you
will find that they led simple lives and that they were easy to deal
with. They understood the purpose of life and knew which issues
were paramount and which were less important. Meanwhile, you will
find that the most obstinate of people are those who, without having
knowledge, are ascetics. They misunderstand revealed texts and are
ignorant of religious issues. The calamity of the Khawarij (a deviant
sect) stemmed from a paucity ofknowledge and understanding. They
were not guided to understand that there are issues which are
paramount in our religion, and which take precedence over other
issues. And so they excelled in insignificant matters while failing
miserably in lofty matters not to mention the mere basics.

The UJrong way to go about things . . .

I recently read two famous books, both of \vhich are deprived of


that ease and simplicity that the Shari 'ah intends for us.
The first is Iyaa ' al- ' Uloom ad-Deen by Ghazali. H e gathered
in it a number of al;aadeeth (hadiths ), many of \Vhich are either weak
or fabricated. He built upon them rules and principles that he thought
were the greatest means of bringing a slave c Ioser to his Lord.
Comparing this book to Bukhari and Muslim, I noticed a clear
difference: the former consists of exaggeration, harshness, and
affectation while the latter two books consist of ease and moderation,
perhaps because they only relate for us the authentic Sunnah. By
comparing these books, I found a deeper meaning of the foliowing
verse:
386 The nohlest hwnan heing

And We shall make easyfor you [O ' Muhammad] the easy way [i.e.
the doing of righteous deeds]. (Qur 'an 87: 8)
The second book is Qoot al-Quloob, written by Abu Taalib al
Makkee. In it, the author encourages the reader to forsake this life, to
abjure work, to refrain from even lawful pleasures, and to strive
towards austerity and stemness.
The two authors, Abu J:Iamid al-Ghazali and Abu Taalib al
Makkee, had good i ntentions. The problem, though, was that their
knowledge of the Sunnah was confused and weak. For this reason,
error crept into their way of thinking. We should leam this lesson
from their mistakes: the guide must be skilled in the way; he must
have an accurate map which shows the different paths that lead to
one's goal.
On the contrary [he would say]: 'Be you Rabbaaniyoon [learned
men of religion who practice what they know and also preach
others], because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying
it. 'P (Qur 'an 3: 79)

The noblest human being

Some salient features of the Messenger of Allah's character were


contentment, optimism, and a generous heart. He was a bearer of glad
tidings. H e forbade people from extremes of austerity and asceticism,
because these lead to repelling people from the truth . Hopelessness
and failure were not i n his dictionary. A smile was always on his face,
and his heart was content. Furthermore, his commands were easy to
follow, for his mission was to alleviate hardship and to remove the
shackles o f falsehood that hold people down.
One step at a time 38 7

One step at a time

When addressing the masses in a sermon, an orator must take a


step-by-step, systematic approach. Systematic, in this instance,
means that more important issues should be dealt with first. This
principle is corroborated by the advice of the Messenger of Allah
(bpuh) to Mu'aadh (may Allah be pleased with him), when he
dispatched him to Yemen:
"The first thing that you should call them to is to bear witness
that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that I
am the Messenger of Allah. . . "
In our personal endeavors, many of us realize that we should
seek gradual development. Why then do we hurl everything down
people's throats at once !
<{And those who disbelieve say: ' Why is not the Qur 'an revealed to
him all at once? ' Thus [it is sent down in parts}, that We may
strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you
gradually, in stages [It was revealed to the Prophet in 23 years}.
(Qur 'an 25: 32)
Muslims should feel a sense of comfort and ease in leaming the
teachings of Islam, especially since Islam came to save people from
inner strife.
The term Takleef, which literally means "a b urden (at least in one
of its connotations)," was mentioned in the Qur'an only in the
negative.
A llah burdens not a person beyond his scope. (Qur 'an 2: 286)
When the Prophet's Companions would come to him asking for
general counsel or instruction, he would advise them in succinct and
concise words which were easily memorized. After understanding
the questioner's situation, the Prophet (bpuh) ahvays gave a practical
and simple response.
388 Whether you have a /i11/e or a lo!. /eam to he tlwnkfid

We err greatly \vhen we try to present to an audience all of the


advice, teachings, manners, and wisdom that we have at our disposal.
And [it is} a Qur 'an which We have divided [into parts}, in order
that you m ight redte it to men at intervals. (Qur 'an 1 7: 1 06)

Whether you have a little or a lot,


learn to be thankful

The person who is not thankful to Allah for cold, pure water; will
not be thankful to Him for a mansion or a luxury car.

The person who is not thankful for warm bread will not be
grateful if he suddenly becomes blessed with luxury food items,
because an ingrate sees a little and a lot to be the same thing. Many
before us have made binding promises to Allah that, if He were to
give them blessings. they would in tum be grateful and give charity.
!And ofthem are same who made a covenant with A llah [saying]: 'fl
He bestowed o n us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah
[Zakah and voluntmy charity in A llah s Cause} and will he certainly
among those who are righteous. ' Then when He gave them of His
Bounty, they became niggardv [refused to pay the Zakah or
voluntary charity}, and turned away, averse. l (Qur 'an 75: 76)
Everyday we see people of this sort, people that are mentally
distressed, empty on the inside, and bitter towards their Lord because
H e did not give the1n more. They feel this way despite their good
state of health and in spite of the nourishing food that sustains them
daily, not to mention all of the basic needs that they have. They are
not thankful for these things, nor are they thankful for the free time
that they have. What would then be the case if they were given castles
or mansions ! lndeed they would deviate even further from the path of
their Lord and they would increase in haughtiness and disdain.
Thrce plaqucs 389

The one who walks barefooted says, "I \vill be thankful to my


Lord when he bl esses me with shoes. " And the one with shoes
postpones being grateful until he gets an expensive car. We take
blessings cash down and are thankful on credit. Our wishes from
Allah are never-ending while we are slow and lethargic in applying
His commandments.

Three plaques

A wise person hung up three plaques in his office that he would


read daily.
Written on the first was, "Your today, your today ! " M eaning,
live within the boundaries of today, working and striving.
The second said, "Reflect and be thankful . " Meaning,
contemplate Allah 's blessings upon you and then be grateful.
And "Don 't be an gry, " was written on the third.

Pause to reflect

There are two points we should bear in mind when we think


about the issues of hardship and relief:
First, when one can no longer bear a hardship, he will lose all
hope in human beings, and as a result, his heart will depend upon
Allah Alone.
Second, whenever the true believer feels that relief is slow in
coming, and whenever he feels that his prayers are not answered; he
will blame no one save his own self. He will say to his self. "I am in
this situation only because of you. Had you been worth anything your
prayers would have been answered. " Such self-reproach is more
beloved to Allah than many good deeds. When a slave of Allah goes
through this process of introspection and sel f-reproach, h e breaks
3 90 Be jlee fiom ll'Orry andfear

down hefore his Lord and admits his shortcomings and confesses that
he deserves the calamity that hefell him and that he doesn't deserve to
have his prayers ans\.vered. At this point, the answer for his prayers
comes quickly and the black cloud above him dissipates.
Ibraheem ihn Adham said:
"If the kings knew our quality of life, they would fight us over
it with swords . "
Ihn Taymiyah said:
"My heart son1etimes experiences a kind of inexpressible
feeling for a number of hours, and I say, ' If the people of
Paradise are i n a state similar to mine (right now), they are
living a good life. '"

Be free from worry and fear

More than thirty chapters of the hook Al-Faraju B 'ada ash


Shiddah deal with the topic of ease and relief after difficulty. The
hook stresses the point that the more severely we hecome engrossed
in hardship, the c loser we are to ease and relief. The book has more
than two hundred stories, all of which revolve around this theme.
Whatever the hardship may be, it is only a matter of days before
hetter times arrive. At-Tanookhi said,
"Be calm, for many have come before you who have trodden
upon this path. "
And certainly, We shall test you with something offear, hunger, loss
af wealth, lives and fruits. . . (Qur 'an 2: 155)
And We indeed tested those who were befare them) (Qur 'an 29: 3)
It is truly just that in this period of examination - which
continues until we die - we are expected to worship Allah in bad
times just as we are e:xpected to do so in good times. Allah changes
our situations similar to the changing of night and day. Why then the
Deeds qf' charity 391

anger, why the disobedience, and why the complaining?


And if We had ordered them {rnying}, 'Kil/ yourselves [i. e. the
innocent anes kill the guilty anes} or leave your homes, ' veryfew of
them would have done it. .. (Qur 'an 4: 66)

Deeds of charity

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) succinctly said,


"Deeds of charity protect one from the vicissitudes of life . "
This statement i s attested to by both, revelation and sound logic.
Had he not been of them who glorfy, He would have indeed
remained inside its belly [the .fish} till the Day of Resurrection)
(Qur 'an 3 7: 1 43-144)
Khadeeja (may Allah be pleased with her) said to the Prophet (bpuh):
"Nay, by Allah, Allah will never forsake you. Verily, you are
good to relatives, you carry the burdens of others, you provide
for the needy, and you help people who are going through hard
times. " Observe how she understood that good deeds
necessarily lead to good results and that a triumphant ending
follows a noble beginning.
Al- Wuzaraa by A-Sabaabi, A l-Muntaim by lbn al-Jawzi, and
A l-Faraju B 'ada ash-Shiddah by At-Tanookh i : all of these books
relate the following incident. A Govemor named Ibn al-Furaat would
constantly seek to inflict harm upon Abu Ja' far ibn B istaam. The
latter went through much hardship because o f this.
When Abu Ja'far was a child, his mother u sed to place a piece of
bread beneath his pillow. On the following moming, she would give
it to a needy person on her son's behalf. Later on in life, Abu Ja'far
went to lbn al-Furaat for some purpose or another. lbn al-Furaat
immediately said, "Is there a matter between you and your mother
conceming bread?" He answered, "No." "You must be truthful with
392 Recreation and relaxation

me, " lbn al-Furaat insisted. Abu Ja ' far, perhaps somewhat
embarrassed, recounted the story of his mother in a manner that
poked fun at her and at womanhood in general . Ibn al-Furaat said,
"Do not speak in such a (joking) tone, for before sleeping last night, I
prepared a plan that, i f it had succeeded, would have destroyed you.
When I fell asleep, I saw a vision: it was as if my hands were raised
with an unsheathed S\vord and I rushed towards you to kill you. Your
mother blocked my way and in her hand was a piece ofbread that she
used as a shield to proteet you from me. As a result, I couldn 't reach
you. And then, I woke up. " Abu Ja'far gently reproached him for the
animosity that had gradually been built up between them, and this
incident opened the way for a truce between them. Ibn al-Furaat
generously helped Abu Ja'far in his affairs and they soon became
close friends. lbn al-Furaat was heard to have said after the incident,
"By A llah, You will not see from me any evil after this."

&creation and relaxation

Two salient and established characteristics of the Shari'ah are


flexibility and simplicity. These two qualities help the Muslim in his
worship and dealings.
And that it is He [A llah} Who makes [whom He will5] laugh, and
makes [whom He wills} weep. (Qur 'an 53: 43)
The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) would both laugh and joke, but
h e would speak nothing but truth. He ran races against 'Aa' ishah
(may Allah be pleased with her) and he explicitly forbade affectation,
artificiality, and rigidity. He (bpuh) infonned us that, when a person
makes the religion too stringent and harsh, it will overwhelm him. In
another hadith, we are informed that the Religion is solid and that we
should delve into it gently. We are also infonned that every
worshipper has a level of vitality and that a person who is too harsh
Recreation and relaxation 393

will inevitably and eventually snap. He snaps because he only looks


at present circumstances and is blind to the different situations that he
might find himself to be in at a future time. He forgets about the long
tenn effects of his attitude and about the boredorn caused by over
rigidity. Wiser is he who has a minimum level of deeds that h e
perfonns continual ly no matter what the circurnstance. Tf he happens
to be more enthusiastic on any given day, he does more. But if he
weakens, he at least still perfonns those deeds that are a part of his
daily routine. Perhaps this is the meaning of the saying that is
attributed to some of the Companions:
"The soul comes forth at times and dra\vs back at other times.
Take advantage of the times that it draws forth and leave it
alone when it draws back. "
I have seen many people who had good intentions when they
perfonned an inordinate amount of voluntary prayers and when they
went to extremes in their application of the Religion. Eventually,
however, they returned to a weaker state than the one they were in
prior to the surge of enthusiasm they experienced.
What many overlook is that the Religion primarily came to bring
prosperity and happiness to people.
iWe have not sent down the Qur 'an unto you [O ' Muhammad} to
cause you distress. (Qur 'an 20: 2)
Allah reproached those who overtaxed themselves by doing
more than they were capable of - those. who as a result of
withdrawing themselves from the real world, ended up reneging on
their previously made commitments.
But the Monasticism which they inventedfor themselves, We did not
prescribe for them, but [they sought it} 011/y to please A llah
therewith, but that they did not observe it with the right observance.
(Qur 'an 5 7: 2 7)
394 Rccreation and relaxation

Islam distinguishes itself from other religions by being


moderate, by being easy to follow, by caring for the soul and the
body, by catering for this life and the Hereafter, by consisting of
beliefs that are innately acceptable to all.
That is the right religion
. . . (Qur 'an 9: 36)
Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) related
the following:
"A Desert Arab came to the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) and
asked, 'O' Messenger of Allah, who from the people is best?'
He replied:
' The believer who struggles with his self and his wealth
in the way of Allah. Next is the man who isolates
himself in a valley in order to worship his Lord."'
In another narration, he (bpuh) said:
"The one who fears Allah and leaves people to be safe
from his harm . "
Abu Sa'eed ( may Allah be pleased with him) also narrated the
following hadith:
"The time is near when the most valuable property of
the Muslim will be sheep, with which he will follow
pastures in mountains and places of rain; he will be
fleeing with his religion from trials." (Bukhari)
' Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
"Take your fair share of isolation. "
And in the well-put \Vords of Al-Junayd:
"Enduring isolation is easier than enduring the whims and
flattery involved in mixing with others."
Al-Khattabi said:
"If isolation only meant being safe from backbiting and away
from seeing evi l that is beyond your ability to change, then it
would still be something that had great benefits."
Recreation and relaxation 395

This last saying is similar in meaning to the hadith found in Al


I:Iaakim, narrated by Abu Dhar (may Allah be pleased with him):
"Seclusion is better than sitting with someone who is a
bad influence. " This hadith has a goo d chain.
Al-Khattabi explained that, in our Religion, the ruling for
seclusion and socializing depends upon the circumstances. From
revealed texts, we are encouraged to mix and gather with others for
specific purposes: to follow the people of knowledge and to unite
with the community for religious marters. As for other gatherings,
then the person who is self-sufficient in preserving his religion and in
eaming his wealth is better off by mixing with others only when
necessary or when good deeds are involved. Nevertheless, he must
still fulfill his obligations, such as praying with the community,
returning greetings of peace, visiting the sick, attending funerals, and
so on. What is required, then, is to not socialize to an excessive degree,
since doing so results in wasting time and neglecting more important
matters. Mixing with others is akin to the body's need for food and
drink. In both cases, one should limit his intake to only what is needed.
This is purer for the body and the heart; and Allah knows best.
In his dissertation on the topic of isolation, A l-Qushayree said
that the one who seeks seclusion should feel that he is doing so in
order to protect people from his evil and not the opposite. This is
because the former breeds a modest opinion of one 's self, which is
required in the Religion. The latter thinking, however, means that one
is attesting to one's superiority over others, whi ch is not acceptable in
the character of a believer.
In this matter people can be classified into three groups: two of
them are opposites while the third is at a middl e point between them.
The first group isolates itself from people to the extent of not
attending Friday prayers, congregational prayers, and gatherings that
spread goodness. The people from this group have obviously erred.
396 Pause to reffect

Those from the second group are social to the point that they even
participate in evil or asteful gatherings, wherein falsehood, rumors,
and wastage of time prevail: they too have erred. Those from the
middle gro up associate with others in matters of worship that must be
carried out in congregation. They participate with others in spreading
righteousness, in eaming rewards, and more generally, in pleasing
A llah. They avoid those gatherings that are dominated by evil,
falsehood, and extravagance.
Thus We have made [true believen,j, a just [and the hest] nation)
(Qur 'an 2: 143)

Pause to reflect

'Ubadah ibn Saamit related that he heard the Messenger of Allah


(Blessings and Peace be upon him) say:
"Persist in fighting in the way of Allah, for it is among
the doors of Paradise. Through it, Allah removes
anxiety and worry. "
The effect that fighting in the way of Allah has upon a person is
something that we might not accept, but it is something that our
conscience accepts. \Vhenever the soul avoids combating evil, its
level of fear and anxiety increase. But if it fights for the sake of Allah,
Allah will transform fear and anxiety into happiness, strength, and
v1gor.
Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and
disgrace them and give you victot)' over them and heal the breasts of
a believing people, And remove the anger of their [believers '}
hearts) (Qur 'an 9: 14-15)
Therefore fighting in the way of Allah is one of the most potent
remedies for combating anxiety, grief, and worry; and to Allah do we
tum for help.
Conremplare the unil'erse 397

Contemplate the universe

Look around and contemplate the signs that are present in the
creation. The brook, the tree, the flower, the mountain, the earth and
the sky, the sun and the moon, the day and the night - they will all
remind you of the Creator of all things. Thus your faith will increase
and so will your degree of righteousness.
Then take admonition, 0 ' you with eyes [to seej) (Qur 'an 59: 2)
A philosopher who embraced Islam said:
"Whenever I was beset by doubts, I would look at the book of
creation, the letters of which spoke of iniracJes and ultimate
skill. Then my faith would not only return to normal, but it
would increase as wel l . "

Follow a studied plan

Ash-Shaukani said:
"Some scholars advised me that I should never give up
writing, even if that meant writing only two lines every day. I
acted in accordance with this advice and I reaped its fruits. "
And this is the meaning of the hadith:
"The hest deed is the one that a person continues to do,
even if it is something small."
And it is said that if you add enough drops of water, a tlood will
be the result.
When we want to do everything all at once, confusion results.
These will then follow: boredorn, fatigue, and worst of all,
abandonment of action. If we do our work one step at a time,
distributing it in stages, we wi ll achieve so much more. Contemplate
the prayer. We are ordered to perfonn it at five different times during
the course of any given day. The intervals bet\veen the prayers allow
3 98 Fo/lm1 a studied plan

for other activities and there is just sufficient time between one prayer
and the next so that the worshipper retums enthusiastically for
another prayer. However, if the prayers had been combined for one
time, the worshipper would have become bored. The meaning of one
p articular hadith is that a person who pushes his horse to sprint
during the course of a long joumey will not only have wasted away
his mount, but will also not arrive at his destination. Through the
experiences of many. the following holds true: the one who works
consistently for set periods of time achieves more than the one who
tries to do everything at once.
That the prayer makes us organized in our time is a lesson that I
learned from the people of knowledge and that has benefited me in
my life . It is a lesson that is inferred from the verse:
{ Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.
(Qur 'an 4: 103)
If a person were to distribute his worldly and religious duties
around each prayer, he would find his time to be blessed.
For example, if a student of Islam were to allot the time after the
moming prayer for m emorizing, the time after the noon prayer for
reading or attending study circles, the time after the aftemoon prayer
for researching issues, the time after Maghrib prayer for visiting
people or relaxing, and the time after the evening prayer for reading
up on contemporary issues and for sitting with family, he would
achieve much.
O ' you who believe! {f'you obey andfear Allah, He will grant you
Furqaan a criterion [to judge between right and wrong}, or
[Makhraj, i.e. making a wayfor you to get outfrom eve1y dif]iculty},
and will expiatefor vou your sins, andforgive you, and Allah is the
Owner af the Great Bounty ) (Qur 'an 8: 29)
Do not he disorderly in your qff'airs 399

Do not be disorderly in your ajfairs

Debt, financial responsibilities, and bills to pay can play a major


role in causing sadness and anxiety. There are three principles
regarding this issue that we must both understand and apply:
1 . The one who is prudent will not become dependent upon others.
Whoever spends prudently by spending only when necessary and not
by wasting will find help from Allah.
Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the devils) (Qur 'an 1 7: 2 7)
And those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor
niggard(y, but hold a medium [way} bettveen those [extremes].
(Qur 'an 25: 6 7)
2. Seek to derive your sustenance through lawful means, for Allah is
A t-Tayyib (noble, pure, and good) and does not accept other than
what is noble, pure and good. And Allah doe s not bless an income
that is eamed through unlawful means.
. " even though the abundance of evil may please you. !
(Qur 'an 5: 1 00)
3 . Work diligently to eam wealth lawfully and stop being inactive and
lazy. When Ibn ' Auf (may Allah be p leased with him) migrated to
Madeenah, he took nothing with him. One of the H elpers of
Madeenah offered him half of his wealth because the Prophet (bpuh)
established a brotherly bond between him and Ibn ' Auf. Ibn ' Auf
declined the generous offer and simply replied, "Direct me to the
marketplace. "
Then when the [Friday} prayer is finished, you may disperse
through the land, and seek the Bounty of A llah [by working, etc.},
and remember A llah much, that you may be successfu!.l
(Qur 'an 62: 1 0)
400 Your rnlz1c is det ermined hy yourfaith and character

Your value is determined by


your Jaith and character

H e was poor and wan and weak. He wore a torn garment with
many patches on it. He was barefoot and hungry. Along with his
having an obscure lineage, he possessed neither status nor wealth nor
family. Without a roof to shelter him, he would sleep in the mosque
and drink from public fountains. His pillow was his own arm and his
rnattress was the uneYen, rough ground beneath him. But he always
remembered his Lord and he was constantly reciting the verses of
Allah's Book. He would not be absent from the first row in prayer or
from the front lines of battle. One day he met the Messenger of Allah
(bpuh), who upon seeing him, called him by his name, "O'
Julaybeeb, will you not marry?" "And who would give me their
daughter?" was his meek reply. He (may Allah be pleased with him)
passed by two others \Vho asked the same question, to which he gave
a similar reply. The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said to him, "O'
Jualaybeeb, go to so and so, the Anari, and say to him, 'The
Messenger of Allah sends his greetings of peace to you and he
requests you to marry 1ne your daughter. '" This particular Anari was
from a noble and esteemed household. When Julaybeeb carried out
the Prophet's order, the Anari replied, "And peace be upon the
Messenger of Allah. 0 ' Julaybeeb, how can I marry you my daughter
when you have neither wealth nor status?" His wife heard of the
news, and she exclaimed in astonishment, "Julaybeeb! He who has
neither wealth nor status ! " But their believing daughter heard the
words of Julaybeeb, words that to her, contained the message of the
Messenger of Allah. S he said to her parents, "Do you tum down the
request of the Messen ger of Allah? By Allah, no ! " F orthwith, the
blessed wedding took place. When their first night came, a caller was
in the streets announcing a forthcoming battle. Julaybeeb responded
Your l'aluc is dctcrmilu'd hy your /(1ith and character 40 I

without delay and set out for the battleground . With his own hands,
he managed to ki l ! seven disbelievers, and then he himself became
martyred. He embraced death pleased with Allah and His Messenger,
and pleased with the morals for which he sacrificed his own life.
After the battle, the Messenger of Allah was asking about those who
were martyred. The people began to infonn him of those who <lied,
but they forgot to mention Julaybeeb because of his obscurity.
Nevertheless, the Messenger of A llah (bpuh) remembered him, and
he said, "But I have lost Julaybeeb. " He (bpuh) then found
.Julaybeeb's corpse, the face of which was covered in dust. H e shook
off the dust from his face and said, "You kil led seven and then you
were killed! You are from me and I am from you". " And the
Messenger of Allah (bpuh) repeated the second part of that statement
three times. This medal of distinction from the Messenger of Allah
(bpuh) is by itself an ample reward and prize.
The value of Julaybeeb was his faith and his love for the
Messenger of Allah, along with the princip les for which he di ed. His
humble circumstances and obscure family name did not prevent hi1n
from the great honor that was bestowed upon him. With his meager
resources he achieved martyrdom, contentment, and happiness for
this world and the Hereafter.
!They rejoice in "vhat Allah has bestowed upo n them of His Bounty,
rejoicingfor the sake of those ivho have not yetjoined them, but are
le.fi hehind [not yet martyredj that them no .fear shall come, nor
011

shall they grieve. (Qur 'an 3 : 1 70)


So remember, it is your principles and your character that
determine your value. Poverty has never stood i mmovable in the way
of distinction and the achievement of higher aims.
402 The hliss qf' the Companions

The bliss of the Companions


(may Allah be pleased with them)

Among the many ways in which they were blessed, the


Companions were informed of their ranking through revelation. This
verse was revealed about Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him):
fAnd Al-Muttaqoon [the pious and righteous} will be far removed
from it [Heil}. He who spends his wealth for increase in se(f
purification) (Qur 'an 92: 1 7- 1 8)
'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was given glad tidings in this
hadith:
"I saw a white castle in Paradise. I asked who it
belonged to, and I was told that it belonged to ' Umar ibn
al-Khanab. "
In the case of ' Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him), the
Messenger of Allah < bpuh) made this supplication:
"O ' Allah, forgive 'Uthmaan for his past and future
sins . "
The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) described 'Ali (may Allah be
p leased with him) with the foliowing:
"(He is) a man \Vho loves Allah and His Messenger, and
A llah and His Messenger love him."
Conceming Sa'ad ibn Mu' aadh (may Allah be pleased with
him), the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said:
"The Throne o f the Most-Merciful quaked for him."
And he said of Handhalah (may Allah be pleased with him) after
he <lied:
"The angel s of the Most-Merci ful washed him."
Thc llT<!tclzedness q/ rh e disbelievers
' 403

The wretchedness of the disbelievers

As for Fir'aun (Pharaoh):


The Fire; they are exposed to it, morning and afiernoon. . )
(Qur 'an 40: 4 6)
As for Qaaroon (Korah):
I We caused the earth to swallow him and h is dwelling place. J
(Qur 'an 28: 8 1)
As for Al-Waleed ibn al-Mughirah:
I shall oblige him to [climb a slippery mozmtain in the Heil-fire
ca/led A-?-Sa 'ood, or to} face a severe torment! (Qur 'an 74: 1 7)
As for 'Umayyah ibn Khalaf:
Woe to every slanderer and backbiter. l (Qur 'an 1 04: 1)
As for Abu-Lahab:
Perish the two hands ofAbu Lahab [an uncle af the Prophet}, and
perish hel (Qur 'an 111 : l)
And as for Al-'Aas ibn Waa'il:
Nay! We shall record what he says, and TVe shall increase h is
torment [in the Heil]. (Qur 'an 1 9: 79)

Pause to reflect

Consider the following ill-effects of sinning and of being


heedless to the remembrance of Allah: loneliness, not having your
prayers answered, developing a hard heart, a lack of blessings in
wealth and health, being prevented from knowledge, humiliation,
anxiety, and being tested by evil companions ho pollute your heart.
The above-mentioned results follow sinning j ust as plants grow after
being watered.
lf these then are the effects of sinning, the remedy lies only in
repentance.
404 Be gentle 1rith 11'0111e1f'o/k

Be gentle with womenfolk

{And live 'rvith them honorab61. (Qur 'an 4: 1 9)


(And He has put bent'een you affection and mercy. i (Qur 'an 30: 2 1)
The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said:
"Take care and be good to women, for they are
restrained (and bound) to you. "
"The hest of you is the one who is best with his family,
and I am the best of you to his family. "
The happy family is replete with love, contentment, and the fear
of A llah, the Exalted :
l(j it then he, ivho laid thefoundation ofhis building on piety to A llah
and His Good Pleasure, better, or he who laid the foundation of his
building an an undetermined brink of a precipice ready to crumble
down, so that it crumbled to pieces with him info the Fire afHel!. And
A llah guides not the people who are the {,aalimoon [cruel, violen!,
proud, po(vtheist and tvrong-doer]. (Qur 'an 9: 1 09)

A smile every morning

To get off to a good start every day, a husband should smile


when he meets his wife and vice versa. This smile is an introductory
announcement of agnement and compromise.
"A smile in your brother's face is charity. "
And the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) always wore a smile on his
face.
Greet ane another ivith a greeting_fom Allah [i. e. say: As-Salaamu
'Alaykum} blessed and good) (Qur 'an 24: 61)
! rVhen J'OU are greeted with a greeting, greet in return With what is
better than it, or [at least} return it equal(v.! (Qur 'an 4: 86)
A smile c very morninJ; 405

Also, upon resuming one's domestic life, b y which I mean, upon


entering one 's home, one should always make the prescribed
supplication:
"O' Allah, I ask you for the best of entries and the best
of exits. By Allah's name do we enter and by Allah 's
name do we exit. And upon Allah, our Lord, do we
place our trust. "
To speak in a friendly tone also breeds understanding in the home:
And say to My slaves [i. e. the true believers oflr;lamic Mon otheism}
that they should [only} say those words that are the hest.})
(Qur 'an 1 7: 53)
Would that both husband and wife remember the good points of
the other, forgetting the negative ones. When a husband keeps the
positive aspects of his wife in his mind while forgetting ( or at least
blocking out) her defects, he will find peace and happiness.
An Arab poet said:
"Who is the one who has never erred?
And who is the possessor of pure good?"
And had it not been for the Grace of Allah and His Mercy on you,
not one of you would ever have been pure .kom sins. But A llah
purijies [guides to lr;fam} whom He wills, and A llah is A ll-Heare1
All-Knowed (Qur 'an 24: 21)
Minor and trifling matters are the causes of most domestic
problems, and I myself have witnessed many marriages that ended in
divorce, not because of irreconcilable differences, but because o f
something small and unimp011ant. One such domestic strife began
because the house was not clean; another resulted because dinner was
not cooked on time; the cause of yet another was the woman 's
objection to the inordinate number of guests coming to see her
husband. A list of these and other problems can end up tearing a
family apart, leaving children without a father or a mother.
406 A smile ever_t morning

It i s incumbent upon us to live in a world of reality ( especially as


regards to our spouse s) and not to dream up a utopia, one that has to
be realized in the h ome. We as humans can become angry and
irritable, weak and erring. Therefore, when we speak about or search
for domestic bliss, we should keep the concept of relative happiness
in mind, and not total happiness.
The agreeable nature and good companionship of lmam AJ:imad
ibn Hanbal deserves mention here. He said after the death ofhis wife,
"She has been my con1panion for forty years, and in that span oftime,
I never had a disagreement with her. "
The husband must remain quiet when his wife becomes angry
and vice versa, at least until the anger subsides and the storm abates.
lbn al-Jawzi said in Sayd al-Khaafir:
"When your companion becomes angry and says something
that is unwarranted, you should not take it too hard. His
situation is that of a drunken person who is not aware of what
is taking place. lnstead, be patient, even if it means only for a
little while. If you reciprocate his words with harsh words of
your own, you become like the sane person who seeks revenge
on a madman, or the conscious person who seeks retribution
from an unconscious one. Look at him with a merciful eye and
pi ty him for his actions. "
Know that a s soon as he awakes from this state, he will feel
regretful for what happened, and he will come to recognize your
value because of your patience. You should especially be patient if
the angry person is either a spouse or a parent. Let them say whatever
they want until they calm down and do not hold them accountable for
their words. Whenever the angry person is met with anger, his anger
will fail to subside, even after he has revived from his state of
drunkenness.
An obsessionfor re vcnge is poison . .. 407

An obsession for revenge is poison


that flows through a diseased soul

The Crucified Ones in Hist01y is a book full of stori es about


revenge-seekers who inflicted harsh punishments on their enemies.
What one realizes as one reads this book (which is probably what the
author wants us to realize) is that killing their enemies was not
enough to quench their thirst for revenge. The irony that the author
conveys is that the crucified person, for instance, ceases to feel pain
after his soul departs from his body. Meanwhile, the revenge-seeking
killer will never find peace or happiness because the fire of revenge
has engrossed, or rather taken over, his entire being.
The book relates the lives of some of the leaders of Banu
Abbaas; they miss ed the opportun ity of kill ing their rivals from
Banu 'Umayya simply because the latter group died befare the
former group took hold of office. Still enraged, one of them would
remove the corpse ofhis enemy from the grave and whip it or crucify
it and then bum it. So understand this: the seeker of revenge will
always feel more pain and misery than the object of his revenge
because he has lost both peace and serenity.
"Enemies do not afflict the ignorant person
Near as much as the ignorant person afflicts himself. "
iAnd when they meet you, they say, 'We believe. ' But when they are
alone, they bite the tips oftheirfingers atyou in rage. Say: 'Perish in
your rage" . ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 1 9)

Pause to reflect

When the believer is overcome by misfortune, only by repenting


can he truly find a way out of his difficulties. Rather than looking
outward, at extrinsic influences, the believer s hould search inward
408 Do nor melt in to someone else 's personality

and see that he is blarneworthy and deserves what has befallen him.
Only when he reaches this level of consciousness can he begin the
process of correcting, or in some cases redressing, his errors, and
repenting to Allah for past mistakes. And when he takes care of these
inner affairs of his, Allah will take care of his outer ones. These
words might sound simple, but they are very few who apply them in
practice.

Do not melt into someone else's personality

Man passes through three stages: 1 ) imitation, 2) selection and


choice, 3 ) invention and creativeness. Imitation, the aet of copying
someone else's personality and mannerisms, is either res011ed to
because of a strong liking for, or an extreme attachment to, the person
being copied. When practiced in extremes, when an imitator copies
someone el se even in his tone of voice or bodily gestures, what he is
really doing is burying his own personality. Though this might seem
absurd to some, one need only look at the younger generation of
today: you will find some teens imitating famous people in their
walk, talk, and moven1ents. All of their idiosyncrasies are abandoned
for the sake of copying their idols. Had they been imitating noble
traits and noble personalities, I would commend them, since
i mitating someone in seeking knowledge, in being generous, or in
having good manners, is a truly noble action.
I feel compelled here to reiterate what I have said before: you are
a unique entity, and since Allah created Adam (may peace be upon
him), no two people are exactly alike in appearance .
L " and the dfff'erence rf' your languages and colors.
(Qur 'an 30: 22)
Why then, do we wish to be exactly alike in other matters, such
as characteristics and talents?
Waitingfor re/ieffiom A llah 409

The beauty of your voice is in its uniqueness and the beauty of


your appearance is in its being specific to you.
!."and among the mountains are streaks whire and red, <f varying
colors and [others] very black. (Qur 'a n 35: 2 7)

Waiting for relief from Allah

Thaabit ibn Qays (may Allah be pleased with him) was an


eloquent orator who spoke on behalf of the Messenger of Allah
(bpuh) and Islam. However, he would often raise his voice while
giving a sermon, and sometimes this occurred in the presence of the
Messenger of Allah (bpuh).
O ' you who believe! Raise not your voices a bove the voice of the
Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk as you speak to ane another,
fest your deeds may be rendered .fruitless while you perceive not)
(Qur 'an 49: 2)
When this verse was revealed, Thaabit (may Allah b e pleased
with him) thought that he was being referred to, and so he isolated
himself in his home and wept continuously. In a gathering, the
Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him) noticed the
absence of Thaabit and inquired about him. The Companions
informed him of what occurred, and the Messenger of Allah (bpuh)
replied:
"Never! But he is from the inhabitants of Paradise."
In this way, the waming - in Thaabit's case it was merely a
perceived waming - became transformed into a glad tiding.
'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) cried continuously
for one month, day and night, because she was falsely accused of
wrongdoing. She became wan and pale because of the serious nature
of the accusations. Then, suddenly, relief came from Allah, and the
Qur'an established her innocence:
410 Pursue work that you enjoy

i Verily, those who accuse chaste ivomen, who never even think of
anything touching their chastity and are good believers, are cursed in
this l{fe and in the Hereafier. (Qur 'an 24: 23)
She praised Allah, her ranking was restored, and the believers
rejoiced with her.
When the call was made for the battle of Tabuk, three of the
believers lagged behind. Allah, the Almighty, revealed verses in
which those who remained behind were warned about an impending
punishment. The three believers referred to above became miserable
for what they did and they made a sincere repentance. They believed
that there was no sanctuary from Allah except with Him, and after a
short period that seemed interminable to them, the verses of
forgiveness were revealed.

Pursue work that you enjoy

Ibn Taymiyah said:


"I once became ill and the physician told me that reading and
giving talks on knowledge would only exacerbate my
condition. I told him that I couldn 't abandon these pursuits,
and that I would, if possible, like to make his own knowledge a
judge between us. Isn 't it the case, I asked him, that if the soul
feels happy and joyful, the body becomes stronger and
sickness is repelled? The doctor replied in the affirmative.
' Therefore,' I said to him, ' my soul finds joy, comfort, and
strength in knowledge. ' The doctor yielded and admitted that
my situation was outside the pale of his science of medicine. "
[Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. l
(Qur 'an 24: Il)
Pause to reflect 41I

Pause to reflect

Az-Zarkalee's Al- 'Aylaam contains the biographies of eastem


and western politicians, scholars, writers, and doctors. The common
factor between them all - and why they were written about in the
first place - is of course that each one of them had a profound effect
upon others. After reading their biographies I b egan to appreciate the
promise and way of Allah: whoever strives for something in this
world will get his fair share of it by becoming famous, popular,
powerful, or rich, depending in each case on what one 's goals are.
And whoever strives for the Hereafter will find the results both here
and there, by benefiting others, and by receiving rewards from Allah.
!To each - these as well as those - We bestow from the Bounties qf
your lord. And the Bounties ofyour Lord can never be forbidden.
(Qur 'an 1 7: 20)
As I read Az-Zarkalee's hook, I noticed that the non-Muslim
figures that contributed to mankind - especially those that strove in
the arts - gave happiness to others instead ofto themselves. Some of
them led miserable personal lives, others were always unsatisfied,
while some even went to the extreme of committing suicide.
I asked myself this: what is the benefit of pleasing others while
being miserable oneself?
"You gave happiness to many and you are miserab le,
You made people laugh and you yourself cry ! "
I found that Allah gave to each one of them according to what he
wanted, in realization of His promise. Some of them won the Nobel
Prize, because that is what they wanted and strived for; others
became famous because that was their high er goal; others became
wealthy because of their love of money and comfort. However, there
were also those pious slaves of Allah who achieved their reward in
this life and the reward of the Hereafter: people who strived to seek
4 I2 Guida11ce: A natura/ conseqw:11ce o/'helilf

the favor and pleasure of Allah.


A simple shepherd in the Arabian Peninsula was happier on the
inside than was Tolstoy. Why? The first led a simple unaffected life,
knowing where he \vas going in this life and in the Hereafter. The
second never satisfied his desires fully and had no idea of where he
was gomg.
Muslims have w hat is the greatest remedy that mankind has ever
known: it is the belief in what has been divinely preordained, a belief
that I have discussed often throughout this book, and for a purpose. I
know that I, and others who are similar to me, believe in the Islarnic
concept of preordainment when things go according to our liking, but
we tend to complain when things go against our inclinations. This is
why an article and condition of our faith is: "To believe in
preordainment, the good of it, and the bad of it - when it is sweet
and when it is bitter. "

Guidance: A natura[ consequence of belief

Here are some stories that pertain to pre-ordainment.


B odlee authored many books including The Messenger. In 1 9 1 8
he settled in North\\-est Africa among a group of nomadic desert
people. These were Muslims who prayed, fasted, and remembered
Allah. H e later wrote about some of his expe1iences with them. This
is how he begins one particular narrative:
"One day, a strong sand storm began gathering force. The
vicious winds destroyed much and the heat was so intense that
I felt the roots of my scalp buming. During this experience I
felt that I was on the brink of madness. To my astonishment,
though, the Arabs did not complain at all. They shook their
shoulders with resignation and said that it was something that
was written for them and preordained. Forthwith, they
Guidance: A natura/ consequene<! of helief 4 I3

retumed to their daily labor with vigor. The head o f the tribe
said, 'We didn 't lose much if you consider that we deserved to
lose everything. But all praise and thanks are for Allah; we still
have forty percent of our livestock and we are capable of
staiiing afresh. "'
He related the following about another incident,
"As we were traveling through the desert in a car, we had a flat
tire, and to make things worse, the drive r had forgotten to take
along a spare one. I was overcome with both anger and worry.
I asked my Arab companions what we \vere going to do. They
calmly reminded me that anger was not going to help the
situation, but rather was more likely to aggravate it. We were
moving at an excn1ciatingly slow pace on three good tires and
on one flat; it wasn 't long before the c ar stopped altogether,
and not because of the tire situation, but because we had al so
run out of fuel . Even when this happened, my traveling
companions remained undisturbed. F urthermore, they
cheerfully recommenced the joumey on foot while singing
in unison. After spending seven years in the desert with the
Arab nomads, I became thoroughly convinced that the
widespread European and American pro blems of drunkenness,
mental sickness, and depression were the results of a fast
paced city life."
He also said,
"I never felt any stress at all while I was living in the desert. I
felt that I was in God's paradise. I felt that I had discovered
peace, tranquility, and contentment. Many people scoff at the
fatalistic beliefs of the Arabs. But who knows? M aybe the
Arabs have with them the truth after all, for as I reminisce
about the past, it becomes clear to 1ne that my life was
composed of disjointed periods that were the results of events
414 The middle course

or happenings that were pushed onto me without my having


any choice. The Arabs refer to these events as being 'Allah 's
Preordainment and Decree. ' In summary, seventeen years have
elapsed since I left the desert, and I still take the stance of the
Arabs regarding 'Allah 's Preordainment and Decree. ' I
respond to events that are out of my control with serenity,
calmness, and composure. This quality that l leamed from the
Arabs has done more to calm my nerves and lower my level of
stress than thousands of prescription sedative pills can do. "
To comment o n the words of Bodlee, I would first like to
mention that the source of truth with the Desert Arabs was the
Messenger of A llah. Muhammad (bpuh). The substance of his
message was to save p eople from hopeless wandering - to take them
out of darkness and bring them into light. His noble message
contained the secret to peace and salvation: namely, to recognize that
Allah predestined everything while at the same time every person
must work and do their best to reach their desired goals. The noble
message of Islam came to show you your place in the Universe, so
that you can be the ideal person who knows the secret and purpose of
human existence.

The middle course

Th us We have made you [true believersj, a just [and the best}


nation. (Qur 'an 2: 143)
Happiness is found between two extremes: excess and
negligence. The middle course is the divinely prescribed way that
saves us from the clear falsehood of two extremes - for instance, the
extremes of Judaisrn and Christianity. Jews had with them
knowledge, but they discarded action; Christians worshipped
excessively, but they abandoned the divine knowledge that was
A voiding extremCJs 415

revealed to them. Islam came with both knowledge and action; it


cared for the body and for the soul; and it recognized both revelation
and the mind, with each given its rightful place.
When you are moderate in worship, you are foliowing the
middle path. What this means is that you shoul d not be so excessive
in performing acts of voluntary worship that you hurt and weaken
your body. Nor should you abandon voluntary deeds of worship
altogether. In spending, you should not be extravagant, squandering
away your resources, but neither should you be miserly. Moderation
in character means tinding a level between being harsh and overly
lenient, between constantly frowning and constantly laughing, and
between lonely isolation and excessive socializing.
Islam provides a middle and just way in all affairs.
Then A llah by His Leave guided those who believed to the truth of
that wherein they dif.fered. And Allah guides whom He wills to a
Straight Path. (Qur 'an 2: 2 1 3)

Avoiding extremes

Mutarrif ibn 'Abdullah said, "The worst joumey is the


Haqhaqah. " Haqhaqah is a joumey wherein the traveler is rash and
hurried, exhausting both himself and his mount. In a hadith, the
Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said that the worst leaders are the ones
that are too severe with those who are under their authority.
Keep in mind that generosity comes betvveen extravagance and
meanness, and that courage comes between cowardliness and
recklessness. A smile is between a frown and a laugh. Patience is
between hardiness and squeamishness. Extravagance has a remedy: it
is to put out a part of the flame. Meanwhile, the cure for negligence is
to whip oneself into shape by developing a stronger l evel of
determination.
4 16 Pause to reffect

i Guide us to the Straight Way. The Way of those an whom you have
bestowed Your Grace, not [the wa_v} (fthose who earned Your A nger
[such as the Jews]. nor af those who went astray [such as the
Christians]. %} (Qur 'an I : 6-7)

Pause to re;fiect

There is no quality that is harder to adopt than patience,


regardless of whether patience is required after separation from a
loved one or when unfavorable events occur. It is most difficult to be
patient when the period of waiting is prolonged or when hopelessness
takes over. During thi s period, one needs provisions, provisions that
vary according to the situation:
I . Sometimes you should look at the level of hardship you are
bearing and appreci a te that things could have been worse.
2 . Hope from Allah t hat He recompenses you for your sufferings in
this world.
3 . Keep in mind the reward of the Hereafter.
4. Know that anxiety and restlessness are of no use.
Add to this list anything else that may help you be patient during
a period of hardship.

Who are the righteous ones?

Waiting eagerly for the call to prayer, arriving at the mosque


before the commencement of prayer, bearing no personal grudges
against others, leaving alone other people's private affairs, being
content with the basic necessities of li fe, studying the Qur' an and the
Sunnah, feeling concem for the pains of other Muslims, and being
charitable with one's wealth - these are all qualities of a righteous
person.
A llah is Most Kind to His slaves 417

A middle path with regards to wealth is highly recommended.


Therefore you should seek neither the level of affluence that can
entice you towards evil (unless, of course, you use your wealth
wisely and spend it generously in the way of A llah), nor the level of
poverty that causes you to forget about the Hereafter. The hest
situation for many believers is to have just enough wealth to fulfill all
of their needs in a lawful manner - not much more and not any less.
Basic needs may differ slightly from person to person, but in
general it is a house to live in, a wife to seek comfort with, a suitable
vehicle to move about in, and an amount of money that is enough to
buy necessary provisions.

Allah is Most Kind to His slaves

A high-ranking member of the Riyadh community related to me


that in 1 3 76 Hijri, a group of fishermen from the town of Jubayl set
out for the ocean, and after spending three days and three nights
fishing, they did not manage to catch even a single fish. Meanwhile, a
group of nearby fishermen caught many fish. They were surprised,
not merely from the disparity between their failure and the other
group 's success, but because they were perfonning the five daily
prayers and failed while the other group was not praying and
succeeded. One of them said, "How perfect is Allah! We prayed to
Allah every single prayer and we didn't get anything; the other group
did not prostrate to Allah even once over the last few days and look at
all that they managed to get! " In this way, the Shaytaan (Devil)
whispered evil suggestions to them and advised them to abandon the
prayer. The next moming, they did not wake up for the Moming
Prayer. They also neglected to perform the Noon and Aftemoon
Prayers. Befare nightfall, they set out for the ocean; they caught a fish
and upon slitting it open they found a pearl in its stomach - a very
418 A llah is mos t kind 10 His slaves

expensive pearl. One of them took the pearl in his hand, stared at it,
and said, after reflecting, "How perfect is Allah! When we obeyed
Him we got nothing, and when we disobeyed Him this is what we
got! Indeed, this sustenance befare us is of a doubtful nature. " Then
he took hold of the pearl and hurled it into the ocean, saying
immediately afterwards, "Allah will recompense us with better than
this. B y Allah, I wil I not take it, for we acquired it after abandoning
the prayer. Come w ith me, and let us leave this place wherein we
disobeyed Allah . " They traveled three miles befare camping for the
night. Shortly afterwards they went fishing again, and they caught a
fair-sized fish. When they slit it open, they found the same valuable
pearl inside its stomach. They said, "All praise is due to Allah, Who
has provided us with good sustenance. " They caught the fish after
praying, remembering Allah, and asking for His forgiveness, so this
time they kept it.
You should notice one important difference: the obj ect was one
and the same, but it was filthy when they acquired it while they were
disobeying Allah , and it was pure when they acquired it while
obeying Him.
Would that they were contented with what A llah and His Messenger
gave them and had said: 'A llah is Sufficientfor us. Allah will give us
of His Bounty, and [also} His Messenger [from alms, etc.}. We
implore A llah [to enrich us}. ' (Qur 'an 9: 59)
Verily, it is Allah 's kindness. So whenever somebody abandons
something for Allah, Allah provides him with something that is
better.
This reminds m e of a story of 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with
him). One moming, he entered Masjid al-Koofa to pray two
voluntary units of prayer. Before entering, he found a boy standing at
the door. He said to him, "O' boy, restrain for me my mule until I
finish praying." As 'Ali was entering the Mosque, he made an
And He lrill provide him .fiom. . . 419

intention to reward the boy with a dirham for his services.


Meanwhile, the boy removed the noseband from the mule and rushed
offto the marketplace to sell it. When 'Ali came out ofthe Masjid, he
found no boy, but only his mule without its noseband. He
commissioned a man to go after the boy and ordered him to go to the
marketplace since it was more than likely that the boy would go there
to sell the noseband. The man found the boy auctioning it in the
market and he bought it from him for a dirham. H e retumed to ' Ali and
informed him of what happened. After hearing what occurred, 'Ali
said, "How perfect Allah is! By Allah, I intended to give him a lawful
dirham, but he refused to take it other than in an unlawful way. "
Whatever you [O ' Muhammad} may be doing, and whatever
portion you may be recitingfrom the Qur 'an, - and whatever deed
you [mankind} may be doing [good or evil}, We are Witness thereo.f
when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord [so
much as] the weight ofan atom [or smal! ant} on the earth or in the
heaven. (Qur 'an 1 0: 61)

And He will provide him .from [sourcesJ


he never could imagine

And He will provide him from {';;ources} he n ever could imagine. }


(Qur 'an 65: 3)
At-Tanookhi related in A l-Faraju B 'ada as-Shiddah a story of a
man who fell into a state of <lire poverty. All doors of ease were shut
tight before him. On one particular day his situation became so
frightful that he and his family had nothing whatsoever in the house
to eat. He later said, "The first day, we went hungry. The second
passed in a similar fashion, and when the sun was about to set, my
wife said to me, 'Go out, and find anything that you can for us to eat,
for we are on the verge of dying.' I remembered a female relative of
420 And He ll'ill provide himfiom . . .

mine and set out for her home. Upon meeting her, I informed her of
our pathetic situation. She said that they had nothing in the house
other that a rotten fish. I told her to give it to us nonetheless, since we
were c lose to starving. I took it home with me, slit it open, and to my
astonishment, I found a pearl lodged in its stomach. I sold it for
thousands of dinars and then I informed my relative of what
happened. She said that she would only take a share of the proceeds,
and not everything. My situation improved greatly after that
occurrence, and I furnished my house from my share of the profits.
And I knew that it was the kindness of Allah, and nothing else. "
And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from
A llah ) (Qur 'an 1 6: 53)
i{Remember} when you sought help ofyour Lord and he answered
you. J (Qur 'an 8: 9)
And He it is Who sends down the rain) (Qur 'an 42: 28)
A virtuous worshipper recounted to me what happened to him
when he was in the desert one day with his family. He said,
"We were i n the middle ofthe desert when we ran out ofwater.
I set out to search for water and I found that the small brook
that was near us had gone dry. I continued to search for water
in all directions, but was unable to find even a drop. Soon
afterwards \\'e were overcome by thirst. My children
desperately n eeded to drink something. I remembered my
Lord, Who answers the prayer of the one who is in distress. I
stood, made the altemate ablution ( Tayammum, which is
performed when one cannot use water) with sand, faced the
Ka'bah, and prayed two units of prayer. Then I raised my
hands and cr1ed. My tears flowed as I was ardently asking
Allah for help. I remember now that the following verse
repeatedly came before me in my mind:
A n early recompense 421

l'l not He [better than our gods] Who re.spands to the distressed one,
l,vhen he calls Hinz. . . (Qur 'an 2 7: 62)
'And, by Allah, immediately, as I stood from my p lace of
prayer (and there had not been a cloud in the sky) a cloud
approached our very spot in the desert. It stopped immediately
above us, and it started to rain generously. The brooks around
us became replenished. We drank, washed, and made ablution.
Then, we praised and thanked Allah. S hortly afterwards, w e
traveled away from where it rained and I found that the
surrounding area was dry and barren: it had only rained where
we were. I realized that Allah brought for us the cloud in
response to my prayer and I praised H im. "'
nd He it is Who sends down the rain after they have despaired, and
spreads abroad His Mercy. And He is the Wali [Helper, Supporter,
Protector, etc.}, Worthy of all Praise) (Qur 'an 42: 28)
We have to be assiduous in asking Allah, for only H e can
provide for, guide, and help His slaves. Allah mentioned one of His
Messengers and said:
And We cured his wife [to bear a child} for him. Verily, thev used to
haslen on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope
and fear, and used to humble themselves be:fore Us.
(Qur 'an 21: 90)
An early recompense

Ibn Rajab and others gave an account of a worshipper who ran


out of resources while he was in Makkah. He became extremely
hungry and was about to die from lack of nourishment. One day, as
he was wandering in the precincts of Makkah, he found an expensive
necklace. He put it into his sleeves and headed for the Mosque. On
his way he came across a man who was announcing that he had lost a
necklace. The poor man later said, "I asked hin1 to describe it to me,
422 An early recompense

and he did so perfectly, leaving no room for doubt. I gave him the
necklace without taking reward from him. I said: O ' Allah, I have
given it up for you, s o compensate me with what is better. " He then
went to the ocean and began a journey in a small boat. Only a brief
period oftime passed before a storm came with heavy winds crashing
into the boat. The boat smashed into pieces and the man was forced to
cling to a piece of wood. The violent winds propelled him to the left
and to the right. Finally, he was washed ashore onto an island. He
found there a Mosque filled with people who were praying, so he
j oined them. He found papers with parts of the Qur'an written on
them and he began to recite from them. The people of the island
asked him, "Do you read the Qur'an?" He answered in the
affirmative. They said, "Teach our children the Qur'an . " So he began
to teach thern, and he took a salary for his services. One day, they saw
him writing and they asked, "Will you teach our children to write?"
Again he answered in the affirmative and began teaching them for a
salary.
A short time later they said to him, "There is an orphaned girl
with us whose father was a good man. Will you marry her? " He
agreed to the marriage and later related, "I married her and when I
saw her on the wedding night, I found that she was wearing that exact
same necklace. I asked her to tell me the story of the necklace. She
said that her father lost it in Makkah and a man found it and returned
it to him. She said that her father would always supplicate while
prostrating for her daughter to become blessed with a husband similar
to that honest man. 1 then informed her that I was that man."
He abandoned something for the sake of Allah, so Allah
compensated hirn with something that was better.
"Verily, Allah i s good and pure, and He does not accept
other than what is good and pure . "
Wlu:n you ask , ask A llah 423

'hen you ask, ask Allah

Allah's kindness is very near to us. He hears all and answers our
supplications. It is we who are full of shortcomings, and so we badly
need to be persistent in our supplications. Boredorn or hopelessness
should never cause us to stop invoking Allah, nor should one of us
say: I prayed yet I have not been answered. lnstead, we should press
our heads humbly on the ground and beg for help from A llah. The
hest way to do this is to ask Him by His Perfect Names and Attributes .
But until w e are answered, we must be persistent i n asking Him.
lnvoke your Lord with humility and in secret. (Qur 'an 7: 55)
A writer narrated this story:
A Muslim went to a certain country as a refugee and he
implored the authorities there to grant him citizenship. All
doors were shut before him. Despite his many efforts at
importuning others, all of his contacts fai led. One day he met a
righteous scholar, and he gave him an account of his
predicament. The scholar said to him, ' Supplicate to your
Lord, for He is the One Who makes things easy. ' The meaning
of this advice is found in the hadith:
"Tf you ask, then ask Allah; and if you s eek help, seek
help from Allah. And know that if the nation were to
gather together in order to give you some benefit, they
would not bring you any benefit, except with what
Allah has written for you."
The refugee later related,
"By Allah, I stopped going to people for help or for intercession,
and instead, I began praying to Allah i n the last third of the
night just as the scholar had told me to do. Just befare the
break of dawn, I would call to Allah and invoke Him for relief.
Only a few days passed, after which, I submitted an application
424 Precious moments

for citizenship without using any person of pos1t10n to


intercede for me. A few days passed and then suddenly, to my
astonishment, I was called to pick up my citizenship request
papers. They '\Vere stamped with 'Approved. "'
Allah is very Gracious and Kind to His slaves) (Qur 'an 42: 1 9)

Precious moments

At-Tanookhi gave the account of a govemor in Baghdad who


usurped the wealth of an old lady in his province. He took away all of
her rights and confiscated her property. She went to him, wept befare
him, and complained of his oppression and wrongdoing. He was
neither regretful nor ashamed of what he had done. In a fit of anger,
she said, "I will pray against you." He laughed at her in mockery and
said, "Then you should pray in the last third of the night. " His
arrogance had made him say this to her. She went away, and in
accordance with the govemor's mock-advice she was steadfast in
praying during the last third of the night. It was only a matter of days
befare he was violently removed from office. As a reward for his
tyranny, his properties were seized, and he was publicly whipped.
After the whipping, the old lady passed by him and said, "You did
well ! You advised me to pray in the last third of the night and I found
the results to be most favorable. "
The last third of the night i s a very precious time i n our lives.
Why? During this ti1ne, Allah, the Exalted, says:
"Is there someone who is asking, and I will give to him.
Is there someone who is seeking forgiveness, and I will
forgive him. Is there someone who is supplicating, and I
will answer him. "
From childhood until now, I can recall a number of occasions in
which it was clear that help comes only from Allah. Approximately
Precious moments 425

ten years ago, I was on a flight from Abha to Riyadh. Shortly after
takeoff, an announcement was made that the p lane was retuming to
Abha due to a mechanical problem. They then claimed to have fixed
the problem and we took offfor a second time. Upon approaching the
runway in Riyadh, the landing wheels would not open. We circled the
city of Riyadh for a whole hour. The pilot made ten attempts to land,
but on each occasion the landing gear did not respond. Many people
in the plane panicked and tears were flowing p rofusely as we waited
in the sky for death. At that moment, we saw how insignificant and
tleeting this life is, and our hearts became attached to the H ereafter.
We began to repeat, "There is none worthy of worship except A llah
alone and He has no partners. The kingdom be1ongs to Him; all
praise is due to Him and He is upon all things capab le . " An old man
stood and exhorted the people to turn to Allah. to supplicate to Him,
to seek forgiveness, and to make repentance. And Allah said about
people that:
And when they embark on a ship, they invoke A llah, making their
Faith pure for Him onl_v . . . (Qur 'an 29: 65)
We invoked the One Who answers the prayer of the one who is
in distress. On the eleventh attempt, we descended safely, and when
we landed, it was as if we were retuming from our graves. Tears
dried, smiles appeared, and our peace of mind retumed. How
mere iful and kind is Allah !
An Arab poet said:
"How often do we ask Allah when we become afflicted?
But when our troubles leave us, we forget Him,
When in the ocean, we invoke Him to save our ship,
When we return safely to land, we disobey H im,
We fly in the sky in safety and comfort
And we don 't fall because our protector is Allah . "
426 Divine pre-ordain111e11t

Divine pre-ordainment

In A l-Qaseem, a newspaper printed m Syria, an article was


written about a young man who booked a flight to travel abroad. He
informed his mother of the flight time and asked her to wake him up a
short time before departure. After he fell asleep, his mother heard on
the radio that the weather conditions were awful and that the wind
was blowing violently. The compassion that she felt for her only
child caused her to not wake him up in the hope that he would miss
the flight. When she was sure that the flight had taken off, she went to
wake up her son. Upon entering his room, she found that he was
l ying dead on his bed.
Say [to them}: ' Veri(v, the deathfrom which youflee will sureZv meet
you, then you will be sent back to [Allah}, the All-Knower of the
unseen and the seen, and He will tell you what you used to do. '
(Qur 'an 62: 8)

Death

Ash-Shaykh 'Ali at-Tantawi related that a man who drove a


truck in Syria once picked up a passenger to give him a lift. The
passenger sat in the back where there was neither roof nor cover.
There was, however, a coffin that had been prepared for burial. It
started to rain and the man, noticing that it was a large coffin, decided
to seek shelter inside of it. Another passenger came onto the truck
and he also made his way to the back. He happened to choose a seat
beside the coffin. While it continued to rain the second passenger
thought that he was alone in the truck. Without waming, the first
passenger stuck his hand out of the coffin to see if the rain had
subsided. On seeing the hand, the second passenger became terrified,
thinking that a dead man in the coffin was rising to life. From the
Death 427

sheer terror and shock of the moment, the man stumbled backwards,
fell out of the truck, and smashed his head o n the pavement, dying
instantaneously.
This unexpected way of dying is how Allah had written for this
man to die.
"Everything happens according to a D ivine decree,
And in the deaths of others are morals and lessons. "
It is incumbent upon everyone to real ize that death i s hovering
above us. At any moment, day or night, death can come. 'Ali (may
Allah be pleased with him) expressed in lucid t erms the reality of our
life:
"The Hereafter is traveling towards us and this life is traveling
away from us, so be from the children of the Hereafter and not
from the children of this world. For today is action without
reckoning (judgment), and tom01Tow is reckoning without
action. "
From this saying, we can leam how imperative it is for us to
improve ourselves, to renew our repentance, and to know that we are
dealing with Allah, Who is Most Generous and All-Powerful.
Death does not ask a person for permission prior to arrival, nor
does it give one an early waming about its being on its way:
qNo person knows what he will earn tomorrow. and no person kno ws
in what land he will die. (Qur 'an 3 1 : 34)
- . the Appointment to you is .fhr a Day, whiclz you cannot put back
.

for an hour [ar a moment} nor put forward. j (Qur 'an 34: 30)
At-Tantawi related another story that e qually illustrates the
unexpectedness of death. A bus full of people was moving when the
driver suddenly pressed on the brakes. The passengers asked him
what was wrong. He said, "I am stopping for this old man who is
waving so that he can get on the bus. " They al 1 said in wonder, "We
do not see anyone. "
428 A llah A lone is A ll-Pmre1:fid

He said, "Look at him over there. '' They repeated that there was
no one to be seen. He said confidently, "Now look, he is coming to
get in. " Now the situation was beyond wonder, and they exclaimed,
"By Allah, we don 't s ee anyone. " Then, in an instant, the driver di ed
in his seat.
Thus death came to him in the most bizarre and unexpected of
scenanos:
When their term is reached, neither can they delay it nor can they
advance it an hour [or a moment}. (Qur 'an 7: 34)
Man is cowardly when he faces <langer; his heart begins to
thump when the possibility of death arises, and then, without prior
waming, he dies at a time when he feels most safe.
[They are] the ones who said about their killed brethren while they
themselves sat [at home}: '{f only they had listened to us, they would
not have been killed. ' Say: 'Avert death from your ownselves, ifyou
.speak the truth. (Qur 'an 3: 168)
The strange thing is that we do not think about meeting Allah or
about the transient nature of this life.

Allah Alone is AltPowerful

Sometimes it is a minor incident that wakes one up to the reality


of l i fe. In 1 4 1 3 Hijri, I traveled to Riyadh in order to meet a friend of
mine. H e had to work late on the day of my arrival, so I went directly
to my hotel. Being a q uiet season, there were not many people in the
hotel . The porter directed me to a room on the fourth floor far away
from the activities of the hotel staff. After entering the room, I placed
my briefcase on the bed and went to the washroom to make ablution.
I closed the washroom door behind me, and after washing up, I went
to the door to get out. To my vexation, the door was jammed and no
matter how hard I tried, I couldn 't open it. I tried many times using
A llah A lone is A ll-PoHe1:fid 429

different techniques. Soon I realized that I was stuck in this


constricted place with no window, no telephone, and worst of all, no
one nearby to whom I could call for help. I remembered my Lord and
supplicated to Him for assistance. I stood absolutely powerless for
twenty minutes, though it seemed to be more like three days. For
those twenty minutes I sweated, my heart rate increased alarmingly,
and my body began to shake. The main cause of my high level of
panic was that this had happened suddenly, without waming, and that
I was in a strange p lace with no means of contacting anyone for help.
After what seemed like a lifetime, I decided to try and force the
door open using bodily strength. I began to shake and jerk the door
with my weak, skinny body. I continued to shake it until I tired and
needed to rest. I carried on in this manner for a while, taking rest
whenever I became exhausted. Finally, the door gave in and I
emerged with the sort of feeling that someone might have who has
come out of his grave. I praised and thanked Allah. I remembered
how weak human beings are and how helpless we can become in the
passing of an instant. Then I remembered our sh011c omings and our
forgetfulness of the Hereafter.
iAnd be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to A llah. l
(Qur 'an 2: 281)
f Wheresoever _vou may be,
death will overtake you even ifyou are in
fortresses built up strong and high! (Qur 'an 4: 78)
Death comes in ways that we do not expect. I have read and
heard of men who go forth seeking death, and in the end, they are
granted a long life. Meanwhile, there are others who go forth seeking
safety and who end up dying in the very place that they felt most
secure. One person seeks treatment for a sickness and in this way
meets his death while another lives dangerously and remains safe .
How perfect is Allah, the Most-Wise He has created everything and
planned everything according to His divine Wisdom.
430 Unexpected relief

Unexpected relief

I recently read of a story of a man who was paralyzed. He


remained bed-ridden in his home for years, and eventually, boredorn
and a sense of failure overcame him. Doctors were unable to do
anything for him. One day, while alone in the house, a scorpion
descended from the ceiling of his room, and even though he saw it
coming, he was unable to move. After landing on his head, the
scorpion repeatedly stung him. His whole body, from his feet to his
head, broke out into convulsions. Slowly, and to his astonishment,
sensation retumed to his limbs, and after a short period of time, he
found himself to be \.Valking about in the room. He then opened the
door and went to his wife and children. They could not believe their
eyes when they saw him standing before them. Only when they
finally calmed down was he ab le to in form them of what had taken
p lace.
How perfect is Allah, Who caused the scorpion to be a remedy
for his ailment!
I mentioned this story to a doctor and he accepted its occurrence
as being plausible. He told me that there are kinds of poisonous
serum that, when the ir toxicity is chemically reduced, are used by
doctors to treat paralyzed patients.
And Allah has not sent down a sickness, except that H e has also
sent down for it a cure.

A llah allows m iracles to occur


for His righteous slaves

S ilat-ibn Ashyam, a pious Muslim of the second century, was


traveling in the way of Allah, and when night fell, he decided to take
shelter in an adjoining forest. He entered it, made ablution, and then
A llah a/101rs m;,acles to occur.f(;r His risd1teous slaves 43 1

stood for prayer. Without waming, a lion was rushing in his direction;
and as it came dangerously near him, Silat continued to pray. It began
to circle around Silat, yet he did not break away from his prayer,
instead remaining steadfast, beseeching Allah for help. He made the
final salutation that one makes to exit the inviolable state of prayer,
and he then said to the lion, "If you have been o rdered to kill me, then
do so. And if you have not been ordered to do so, then leave me alone
so that I may speak privately to my Lord. " The lion departed quietly
and left Silat alone.
Ibn Katheer, in Al-Bidayah wan Nihayah, mentioned a story
analogous to the one just related. Safeenah (may Allah be p leased
with him), the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah (bpuh), was
traveling with his Companions along the shore of the ocean. When
they moved inland, a lion approached them menacingly. Safeenah
said, "O' lion, I am from the Companions of the Messenger of Allah,
and I am his servant. These are my companions, so there is nothing
that you can do against us. " The lion tumed around and raced away
as if it were fleeing from them.
Many such stories are true and have been related by reliable
sources. What is important, though, is that you take away from them
a realization that our Lord is Most Merciful and Most Wise and that
He is aware of all that takes place in the universe.
There is no Najwa [secret counsel} af three, but He is theirfourth
[with His Knowledge, while He Himse(f is over the Throne, over the
seventh heaven}, nor of five but He is their sixth [with His
Knowledge}, - not of less than that or more. but He is with them
ivheresoever they may be. l (Qur 'an 58: 7)
432 A I/ah is A ll-Si(/jicient as a Disposer <( affairs

Allah is All-Sufficient as a Disposer of ajfairs

In his Saee, Imam Bukhari related that a man from the


children of Israel asked another to lend him one thousand dinars. The
second man asked, "Do you have a witness (for this transaction)?"
The first man rep lied, "I have no witness except Allah . " The other
then asked, "Do you have a guarantor?" The man said, "I have no
guarantor except Allah." The second man said, "Allah is Ever All
Sufficient as a Disp oser of affairs. " He then gave him the thousand
dinars; they parted and between them there was an agreement upon a
place and time for the paying back of the loan. As it happened, they
lived on opposite sides of a river. When the time drew near for the
transaction, the b orrower went to the shore to find a boat so that he
could repay his debt. To his disappointment, he found no boat. He
continued to wait until long after nightfall without succeeding in
tinding someone to take him across to the other side. He said, "O'
Allah , he asked me for a witness and I found no one but You; he
ask ed me for a guaran tor, and I found no one but You. 0' Allah, make
,
this letter reach him. . He took a piece of wood, hollowed it out, and
inserted the thousand dinars with the letter. Then he hurled the piece
of wood into the river. By the permission of Allah, it floated forward
according to a guided course. The lender went to the shore in keeping
with the appointment. H e waited for a little while, and when the other
man did not come, he said to himself, "Why don 't I at least take some
firewood for my family?" He passed by the piece of wood and took it
home. F inding that it was hallow, he broke it open and found the
money with the letter.
And in A llah should the believers put their trust) (Qur 'an 3: 1 22)
A nd put your trust in Allah (f' you are believers indeed)
(Qur 'an 5: 23)
A llah is A ll-Sufficient as a Disposer of l{/j(1irs 433

I mention these stories here so that your faith in Allah 's promise
increases, and so that you will supplicate to H i m and invoke Him in
solitude. Allah, the Almighty, ordered you with the following:
!Invoke Me, 1 lvil/ respond to your [invocationj. (Qur 'an 40: 60)
{And when }vfy slaves ask you [O ' Muhammad} concerning Me, then
[answer them], I am indeed near [to them by My Knowledge}. 1
respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me
[without any mediator or intercessor}. ! (Qur 'an 2: 1 86)
Al-l:lajjaj ordered for Al-I::Iasan al-Bari to be brought before
him in order to inflict harm upon him. While .\1-ijasan was going to
him, Allah 's protection and kindness were i n his mind. Having a
strong trust in Allah's promise, Al-J:Iasan started to pray to A llah,
asking Him by His Perfect names and attributes. A llah caused Al
J:Iajjaj 's heart to change by infusing terror in to it. When A l-J:Iasan
arrived, he was surprised to see that Al-l:lajj aj welcomed him i n a
friendly manner. During the meeting, Al-J:Iajjaj was gentle , polite,
and obsequious with Al-I:Iasan.
There is not a thing but glor(fies His Praise. But you understand not
their glorification. Truly, He is Ever Forbearing, Oft-Forgiving. l
(Qur 'an 1 7: 44)
It is authentically established that Sulayman (may peace be upon
him) was taught the language ofthe birds. One day, he set out to pray
with the people for rain, and on his way to the masj id, he saw an ant
lift its legs: it was praying to Allah. Sulayman said, "O ' people,
return, for another's prayer was enough and sufficient for you. "
The rain started to pour because of the ant's prayer; Sulayman
had understood its speech. Once, when he was marching forth with
his huge army, one ant wamed the others:
One ofthe ants said: 'O ' ants! Enter your dwellings, fest Sulayman
[Salomon} and his hosts crush you, while the_v perceive not. ' So h e
[Sulayman} smiled, amused at her speech. J) (Qur 'an 2 7: 1 8- 1 9)
. .
434 Everytliing in the universe glor{fies A llah

Allah 's kindness and mercy often descend because of animals.


Abu Ya' la related a hadith, wherein the Messenger of Allah
(Blessings and Peace be upon him) related that Allah. the Exalted,
said:
"If it wasn 't for decrepit old people, infants, and
pasture-seeking beasts, I would have prevented you
from the drops of the sky. "

Everything in the universe glorifies Allah

One famous hoopoe (Hudhud), from the world of birds, knew its
Lord. Allah says of Sulayman (may peace be upon him):
He inspected the hirds, and said: ' What is the matter that I see not
the hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees? ' 'I will surely punish him
with a severe torment, ar slaughter him, unless he brings me a clear
reason. ' But the hoopoe stayed not lang, he [came up and] said: 'I
have grasped [the kno1'\l'/edge o.f a thing] which you have not grasped
and I have come to you.from Saba ' [Sheba} with true news. l.found a
woman ruling over them, and she has been given all things that could
be possessed by any ruler o.f the earth, and she has a great throne. I
.found her and her peop le worshipping the sun instead ofAllah, and
Satan has made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and has barred
themfrom [Allah 's} Way, so they have no guidance. ' Al-La [this word
has ttvo inte1pretations} (a) [Satan has barred them from A llah i;:
Way} so that they do not worship [prostrate befare} Allah, or (b) So
that they m ay worship [prostrate befare} Allah, Who brings to light
what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knows what you
conceal and what you reveal. Allah, none has the right to be
worshipped but He, the Lord ofthe Supreme Throne! Sulayman said:
' We shall see whether you speak the truth or you are [one} of the
liars. Go you with this letter qf'mine. and deliver it to them, then draw
Everything in the universe g/or(fies A llah 435

back from them, and see what [answerj they return. '
(Qur 'an 2 7: 20-28)
Al-Hudhud went and, later on, the Queen of Sheba ernbraced
Islam. The reason was that this bird knew its Lord. Some scholars
said, "Strange! Al-Hudhud was more intelli gent than Al-Fir'aun.
Fir'aun disbelieved when things were well, therefore a last-minute
faith did not help him. Al-Hudhud, on the other hand, bel ieved and
had faith in its Lord when things were well, and that faith benefited
him when matters became difficult.
Al-Hudhud said:
So that they may worship [prostrate befare] A llah, Who brings to
light what is hidden. " (Qur 'an 2 7: 25)
Al-Fir'aun said:
'I know not that you have a god other than me. . . ' (Qur 'an 28: 38)
H e is truly wretched who is less intelligent than A l-Hudhud and
has less of an understanding than an ant!
They have hearts wherewith they understan d not, they h ave eyes
wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not
[the truth]. (Qur 'an 7: 1 79)
The world of bees is full of wonders that rem ind us of A llah 's
care. The tiny bee leaves its hive in order to seek out sustenance. It
lands on a good and pure surface and sucks out nectar. It then retums
with a liquid that provides remedy for people, always returning to its
own hive without losing its way.
And your Lord inspired the bee, saying: 'Take you habitations in the
mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all
fruits, andfollow the ways ofyour Lord made easy [for you]. ' There
comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying color wherein is
healing/ar men. Veri(v, in this is indeed a sign for people who think )
(Qur 'an 1 6: 68-69)
436 Be pleased irirh A llah

When you read these stories, you should realize that there is a
hidden care and protection from Allah and that you should supplicate
and pray to Him Alone for all of your needs. You should realize that
everyone else in this universe is weak and helpless; they also need to
worship Allah, to ask Him for sustenance, for health, and for
happiness, because H e owns everything.
fO ' mankind! It is you ivho stand in need afAllah, but Allah is Rich
[Free of all wants and needs}, Worthy of all praise)
(Qur 'an 35: 15)
You must have an unshakeable faith in Allah, and you should
know that all of your supplications and hopes have to be directed to
H i m and not to weak. helpless humans. When you truly appreciate
your Lord 's favors, you will feel the need that the transient being has
for the Everlasting, the dependence of the poor upon the One who is
All-Rich, and the protection sought by the weak in the One who is
All-Powerful. True power, wealth, and everlastingness all belong to
Allah Alone.
If you know all of these things, you must apply your knowledge
and worship Allah sincerely. If you seek forgiveness from Him, He
will forgive you. If you ask Him, He will give you. If you ask Him for
help, H e will help you. And if you are thankful to Him, He will
increase His favors upon you.

Be pleased with Allah

Along with having faith in the phrase, "I am pleased with Allah
as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as a
Messenger, " you must also be pleased with Allah 's cornmandments
and decrees.
When you are selective in your belief in pre-ordainment, your
belief is incorrect. Being selective rneans to be pleased and contented
Be p/eased 1rith A llah 437

with only those decrees that are compatible with your desires, while
complaining against and begrudging those decrees that go against
your desires.
Some people would be pleased with their L ord when things were
easy, but they would begrudge His decrees when things became
tough, and Allah said about them:
urgood befalls him, he is content therevvith ; but fa trial befa lls him,
he turns back on his face [i. e. reverts back to disbelif after
embracing Islam}. He !oses hoth this world and the HereG:fter.
(Qur 'an 22: 1 1)
The Desert Arabs announced their Islam o penly, and when they
found ease and profit in what was revealed, they would say, "This is a
good religion. " They would then obey commandments and observe
their religious duties.
But when they found the opposite - draught and poverty, for
example - they would tum away in disdain, abandoning their
religion. The one who practices Islam in this way always expects ease
in fulfilling his personal desires.
Whoever is chosen by Allah to worship Him and to carry the flag
of Islam, and then is not pleased with this honor, deserves a p erpetual
and etemal torment.
fThe story af him to whom We gave Our Aayaa t [proofs, evidences,
verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.}, but he threw them a-vvay, so
Satan followed him up, and he became of those who went astray J
(Qur 'an 7: 1 75)
fHad Allah known ofany good in them, he would indeed have made
them listen, and even ifHe had made them listen, they would but have
turned away, averse [to the truth}. (Qur 'an 8: 23)
Contentment is a path that is followed by people who want to
live according to a higher code, a code that is followed by those who
are close to Allah.
438 Be pleased irith A llah

The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) distributed the spoils of war after


the battle of I:Iunayn. He gave most of the spoils to the chiefs of
different tribes and to those Arabs who were late or slow in accepting
I slam. H e excluded the Anaar, confident in the degree of contentment
and faith that each one of them had. Perhaps some of them did not
fully perceive the noble reason for their being excluded from this
distribution, so the M essenger ofAllah (bpuh) gathered them together
to explain to them why they were left out. He informed them of his
love for them and that he only gave to the others in order to bring them
cl oser to Islam, an action that was based on their weak level of faith,
which was in need of strengthening. He said to the Anaar:
"Are you not c ontented that the people are leaving with
camels and sheep while you are leaving with the
M essenger of Allah! The Anaar are (like) inner
garments (for me) while others are like outer-garments
(meaning that the Anaar are very close to the
Messenger of A llah and high in ranking with him). May
A llah have mercy on the Anaar, the children of the
Anaar, and the grandchildren of the Anaar. If all
people were to tread in a valley or a mountain pass,
while the Anaar traveled through another valley or
mountain pass. I would tread the mountain pass and
valley of the Anaar. "
They were then satisfied; pleasure and tranquility descended
upon them. Moreover. Allah and His Messenger (bpuh) were pleased
with them.
Those who truly find Allah 's pleasure will not then trade it for
even the entire world : there is nothing comparable to the reward of
Allah 's pleasure.
One Desert Arab accepted Islam in the presence of the
M essenger of Allah ( bpuh), who then gave him some money. The
Be plea.\<!d 1rith A llah 439

Arab said, "O' Messenger of Allah. I did not pl edge to follow you for
this. " The Prophet (bpuh) asked, "Then why did you pledge to
follow me? " He answered, "I pledged to fol low you to have an arrow
strike me here (he pointed to his throat) and to exit here (he pointed to
the back of his neck). " The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) said, "If you
are truthful with Allah, He will be truthful to you (in His promise). "
The man was present at a battle and an arrow struck him j ust as he
desired. He met his Lord, pleased and joyful .
On another occasion, the Messenger o f A llah (bpuh) distributed
some wealth. He gave to those who were weak in their religion, and
he did not give to those whose swords were stained with blood from
fighting in the way of Allah, those who used their wealth and bodies
to defend the Religion. The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) stood before
the people and said:
"I give to people because of the covetousness and
anxiety that Allah has put into their hearts. I don 't give
to others because of the faith - or goodness - that
Allah has put into their hearts. From them is 'Amr ibn
Taghlab. "
'Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "These were words
(from the Messenger of Allah) for which I would not trade all that is
in the world. " This is the epitome of contentment and of seeking
what is with Allah, the Exalted. The whole world to one ofthem was
not worth as much as a smile from the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) .
The promises of the Messenger of Allah were these: the reward
of Allah, His pleasure, and Paradise. He did not promise them castles,
positions, or land. He would say to them, "Whoever does such and
such, his reward will be Paradise . " And he would say to another,
"Whoever does such and such, he will be my Companion in
Paradise. " The tremendous sacrifices and efforts of the Companions
could not be compensated by paltry worldly tokens; a j ust reward for
440 Be pleased 1rith Allah

them could only be given to them in the Hereafter.


Tirmidhi related that ' Umar (may Allah be pleased with him)
went to get permission from the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) to make
pilgrimage to Makkah. The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) answered:
"Do not forget us in your supplication, O' my brother. "
The speaker of this request was the Messenger of guidance, who
was free from sin and who spoke not from desire but from revelation.
' Umar said of the Prophet's priceless and cherished words, "I
wouldn 't trade these words for the whole world. "
Irnagine that the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) had said to you, "Do
not forget us in your supp lication, O' my brother. " How then would
you feel?
The level of the Prophet's contentment and pleasure with his
Lord is beyond our ability to describe. He was pleased with his Lord
in richness and in poverty, in health and in sickness, in harsh
circumstances and in comfort.
H e experienced the bittemess and sadness ofbeing an orphan. At
times in his li fe he could not so much as find the pit of a date to eat to
alleviate the pangs of hunger, he (bpuh) would tie a stone around his
stomach. He had to leave his armor with a Jew as collateral in order to
borrow wheat from him. His bed was straw, which would poke into
his side and cause pain. Sometimes three whole days passed before
he managed to find anything to eat. Despite all of these hardships, he
was pleased with Allah, the Lord of all that exists.
Blessed be He Who, f He will, vvill assign you hefter than [all} that,
- Gardens under wh ich rivers flow [Paradise} and lt:ill as.sign you
palaces [i. e. in Paradisej) (Qur 'an 25: 10)
H e was pleased \vith Allah during the most difficult of times in
his li fe: the early years of his mission. The whole world stood against
him, with their numbers, their wealth, and their power. During this
period, both his uncle - Abu Taalib - and his wife - Khadeejah
A call.fiom the Nakhlah valley 44 1

(may Allah be pleased with her) - <lied. The Quraysh inflicted all
kinds of punishment upon him and his followers. His people
slandered him, accusing him of being a liar, a magician, a soothsayer,
a madman, and a poet.
He was pleased with his Lord even on the day that he was driven
out ofMakkah, the city wherein he played as a child and grew up as a
young man . Tuming towards Makkah, his eyes swelled w ith tears
and he said:
"You are the most beloved of Allah's lands to me. lf
your dwellers had not expelled me from you, I would
not have left. "
He was pleased with his Lord when he went to Ta'aif to deliver
his noble message, and instead of receiving a welcome, he was
greeted with stones that were thrown at him and that made his feet
bleed.
The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) was wounded in the battle of
Ul:md, his uncle was killed, many of his Companions were
slaughtered, but immediately after the battle he said:
"Line up behind me so that I can praise my Lord . "
In short, at every moment of his life, he was pleased with his
Lord, the reward for which is mentioned in this verse:
And verily, your Lord will give you [all i. e. good] so that you shall
be well-pleased) (Qur 'an 93: 5)

A call from the Nakhlah valley

The Prophet Muhammad (bpuh) was forced to leave Makkah,


the place of his family, children, and home. H e sought refuge in At
Ta'aif, where he was treated with contempt: the elders cursed him,
and the children mocked him and pelted him with stones.
442 Thefirst generation rf Muslims

Tears of sorrow poured down his face and his feet bled. Where
was he to turn? Where was he to seek refuge? The only One in whom
one may seek refuge is Allah, the Almighty.
M uhammad (bpuh) faced the Ka'bah, thanked Allah, praised
Him, and invoked Him to help him through his difficulties. Read this,
his suppl ication to h i s Lord after his experience in At-Ta'aif:
"O ' Allah, I complain to you of my weakness, my lack
o f options, and the contempt of people for me. You are
the Most Merciful, You are my Lord; to whom do You
entrust me with : To my relatives who are coarse with me
or to an enemy that You have made to subjugate me. If
You are not angry with me, then I don 't care (how
people treat me), except that safety from you is easier
for me. I seek refuge with the illumination ofYour Face,
which has the effect of making darkness shine, and of
making good the affairs of this world and the Hereafter,
from having your anger descend upon me, or your wrath
come down upon me. I blame myself (and will continue
in my efforts to please You) until You are pleased. And
there is no m ovement (in the universe) or strength
except with You."

The first generation of Muslims

f/ndeed, A llah was pleased with the believers when they gave their
Baiy 'ah [pledge} to :i ou [O ' Muhammad} under the tree, he knfiv
what was in their hearts, and He sent down As-Sakinah [calmness
and tranquility} upo n them, and He rewarded them with a near
victory. J) (Qur 'an 48: 18)
This verse explains the highest goal of the believers: achieving
the pleasure of Allah . Allah 's being pleased with you is the most
Thefirst generation of Muslims 443

precious thing that you have to gain. This verse mentions Allah 's
pleasure for the first generation of Muslims. In other verses, He
mentions forgiveness and pardon for them:
That Allah mayforgive you your sins ofthe past and the future. . )
(Qur 'an 48: 2)
M llah has forgiven the Prophet, the Muhajiroon [Muslim emigran ts
who fejt their homes and came to Al-Madeenah} and the A naar
[Muslims of A l-Madeenah]. . ) (Qur 'an 9 : 1 1 7)
May A llah forgive you [O ' Muhammad} . Why did you grant them
leave?P (Qur 'an 9: 43)
Seeking Allah 's pleasure, the companions made a pledge under
the tree to sacrifice their lives. Why? Through their martyrdom, the
religion grew and spread.
Allah, the Exalted, knew that a high level of faith dwelt in their
hearts. They toiled, sweated, starved, and were tortured, but the
important thing to these noble hearts was that Allah was pleased with
them.
They were separated from their families, their wealth, and their
homes only to face harsh realities of desert travel to another land, but
they cared only for Allah and His being pleased with them.
Was the reward of these defenders of Islam camels, goats, or
money? Do you think that these things would have the effect of
soothing their hearts? Never! What soothed their hearts was the
pleasure of Allah, His forgiveness, and His etemal reward:
And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments,
because they vvere patient. Reclining therein on raised thrones, they
will see there neither the excessive heat af the sun, nor the excessive
bitter cold, [as in Paradise there is no sun and 110 moon}. And the
shade thereofis close upon them, and the bunches offiuit thereofwill
hang /ow within their reach . And amongst them vvill be passed round
vessels of sill'<;Jr and cups <?l 0:1)stal, Cry stal-c/em made qf silver:
444 Contentmenr even l{/ter being ruined

They will determine the measure thereof according to their wishes.!


(Qur 'an 76: 12- 1 6)

Contentment even after being ruined

A man from the tribe of Bani 'Abs left his town in search for a
number of camels that had gone astray. He was away from his home
for three days. H e was a rich man whom Allah had blessed with great
wealth ( camels, goats and cows) and a large family. His wealth and
children were situated on a vast piece of property. Comfort and
opulence surrounded him and his family while it never occurred to
them that disaster might befall them.
The whole fami ly fell asleep one night during their father's
absence. A llah sent upon them a torrential flood that propelled rocks,
as one would expect a strong wind to propel dust. The house was
uprooted and the absent father's entire family and wealth were
destroyed. After the weather had calmed, no trace of either family or
wealth was left. It was as if they had never been.
After three days the man retumed to his home. He retumed only
to find a hollow and empty land that showed no trace of li fe. With the
shock that he felt, it took some time to take in the faet that he had lost
everything.
And then, to make matters worse, one of his camels tried to run
away. He attempted to grab it by the tail, but with its hind legs, it
kicked him in both of his eyes, making him blind. Alone in the desert,
the man called out for someone to take him to safety. After a long
time had passed, he finally heard a Desert Arab answering his call.
The Desert Arab took him before Al-Waleed ibn 'Abdul Malik, the
Khaleefah in Damascus. The man told his story and the Khaleefah
asked, "How are you? " The man answered firmly, "I am pleased with
Allah."
Be rcsolutc in making a decision 445

These powerful words spoken by this Muslim who carried true


Monotheism in his heart became a lesson and moral for those to come
after him. What was this moral? To always be pleased with Allah.
And let one who is not pleased and contented try another way if
he so wishes:
Let him stretch out a rope to the ceiling and let him strangle himse(l
Then let him see ivhether his plan will remove that whereat he
rages !! (Qur 'an 22: 1 5)

Be resolute in making a decision

Then when _vou have taken a decision, put your trust in A llah. . .
(Qur 'an 3: 1 5 9)
Certainly, A llah loves those who put their trust [in Himj)
(Qur 'an 3: 1 5 9)
Whenever a decision has to be made, many of us become
confused and hesitant, and this often results in headaches. Whenever
presented with choices, a Muslim should consult others and perform
that prayer which is prescribed for decision-making ($alaatul
l5tikhaarah). You should think things through before making a final
decision or before taking the first step in any given direction, but if
convinced that one course is better than another, you should take
action without wavering. The time for consultation and p lanning is
then over and the time for action begins.
The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) consulted the Muslims on the
day of UQ.ud. They advised him to go out for battle, and so he put on
his armor and took his sword. When his Companions said, '"Perhaps
we have forced you (to go out) O' Messenger of Allah? Maybe you
should stay in Madeenah, " he answered, "It is not for a Prophet to
don his annor (for battle) and then take it off before Allah makes a
judgment between him and his enemy. " Once the Messenger of
446 Be reso/u1e in making a decision

Allah (bpuh) decided to go out, the matter needed no more


deliberation. Instead, determination, action, leadership, and bravery
were required.
Similarly, the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) consulted the
Companions before the battle of Badr:
and consult them in the affairs)
. . . (Qur 'an 3: 159)
and who [conduct} their ajfairs by mutual consultation. .
. . . .

(Qur 'an 42: 38)


They voiced their opinions, a firm decision was made, and they
then went forth to d o battle.
Always being hesitant is a defect in one's character and often
leads to failure and c onfusion. I know people who for years have
been oscillating between decisions that should have been routine and
easy. It is they themselves who have invited failure and frustration to
enter into their lives.
You should study the practicability of your plans and ideas. Give
yourself time to think things through, seek counsel with experienced
and wise people, and pray to your Lord to guide you to the best
between two or more choices. But in the end take action and do not
tarry or linger in making your decision.
After the Messenger of Allah (bpuh) died, many of the Arab
tribes refused to pay Zakah ( compulsory charity). Abu Bakr (may
Allah be pleased with him) consulted with the people regarding how
he should deal with the situation. The people, including 'Umar (may
Allah be pleased with him), advised him not to wage war against
those tribes. Nevertheless, after weighing the various arguments, Abu
Bakr decided that they had to fight them. He was firm and resolute,
and he did not waver in the least. He said, "By the One Who has my
soul in His Hand, I will fight the one who makes a distinction
between the prayer and the compulsory charity. By Allah, if they
refuse me the headband that they used to give up to the rvtessenger of
BC' resolute in mak inK a decishm 44 7

Allah, I will fight them over it. " 'Umar said, "When I realized that
Allah had opened Abu Bakr's heart (to fight), I knew that it was the
truth. " Abu Bakr, after weighing the options, made that tough
decision. They fought the apostates and were victorious.
A characteristic of the hypocrite is to make a plan fail by
endlessly questioning what should be done and by always requesting
for the matter to be further deliberated upon .
qHad they marched out with you, they would have added to you
nothing except disorde1; and they would have hurried about in your
midst [spreading corruption} and sowing sedition among you" .
(Qur 'an 9: 4 7)
[They are] the anes who said about their killed brethren while they
themselves sat [at home}: 'ffonly they had listened to us, they would
not have been killed. ' Say: 'Avert death from .vour ownselves, (fyou
speak the truth. 'l (Qur 'an 3: 1 68)
Their favorite words are 'what if,' or, ' would that we had done
such and such,' or, 'maybe. ' They are always wavering on unstable
ground.
q{They are] swaying between this and that, belonging neither to
these nor to those. . ) (Qur 'an 4: 1 43)
At times they are with us and at other times they are with them.
In times of crisis, they say:
q 'Had we known that fighting will take place, we would certainly
have followed you. ' (Qur 'an 3: 1 6 7)
They lie constantly. In good times they are present, but should a
difficult situation arise, they go into hiding or run away. One of them
says:
c;! 'Grant me leave [to be exemptedfrom Jihad} and put me not in to
trial. 'j (Qur 'an 9: 49)
In order to flee from duty, they said befare the battle o f Ahzaab:
448 The believer is .firm and resolute

f 'Truly, our homes lie open [to the enemy]. ' And they lay not open. P
(Qur 'an 33: 13)

The believer is firm and resolute

Only those are the believers who have believed in Allah and His
Messenger, and afierward doubt not. . ) (Qur 'an 49: 15)
As for others:
So in their doubts they waver. fJ (Qur 'an 9: 45)
There was a man who for four years could not decide whether he
should divorce his mean and cruel wife. Finally, he went to a wise
person to seek advice. The latter asked how long he had been married
to her, and the man answered, "F our years. " The wise man was
astonished and said, "For four years now you have been sipping
poison ! "
It goes without saying that patience and forbearance are called
for in situations similar to that of the previous story, but until when?
At what point do we say, ' Enough ! ' A sensible person has a good
idea whether the ending of such a relationship is good or not, and
then he takes action.
Confusion and hesitancy attack people in many different
situations, but in the foliowing four especially:
1 . Deciding upon a major in studies; a person who is weak in making
decisions will be uncertain of which faculty to enter. Some people
remain undecided even after the deadline for registration has passed.
Others study in a faculty for one or two years and then transfer to
another; at first, they will be leaning towards religious studies, then
economics, then medicine - gradually wasting away their life in this
fashion.
If the same person had consulted others who have more wisdom
and experience than he does, and had sought guidance from Allah, he
The tax on being an eloquent speaker 449

would have made better use of his time.


2. Deciding upon an appropriate job. Some people cannot pinpoint
the most suitable job for their temperament. They move from j ob to
j ob, always dissatisfied with the previous one. Finally, they decide to
go into business for themselves. This kind of wavering often leads to
financial instability.
I say to such people, "If you are comfortably eaming money in
the profession you work in, you should stick to it. "
3 . Marriage. Many young people are in confusion, tinding it difficult
to choose their partner. In this regard, one can easily be influenced by
the opinions of others. Sometimes the father deems a particular girl to
be worthy of marriage, and the son agrees; however, the mother
demurs. (The scenarios are endless conceming choosing a wife.)
My advice conceming marriage in particular is that one should
wait until he is satisfied with a girl 's religion, looks, and character,
because in the case of marriage, we are talking about a woman's life,
not some trifle to be discarded when one gets bored.
4. Confusion and lack of resolve are common to people who are
contemplating divorce. One day, the husband might decide that
separation is better, and on another day, he decides that things can be
worked out.
The lack of peace in one's life that results from this kind of
wavering has to be amended by a resolute decision. Life is short, so
we should all try to do our part in making every moment of life a
happy one, both for ourselves and for those around us.

The tax on being an eloquent speaker

We are successful to the degree that we are dutiful to Allah, and


after that, to how we internet with His slaves. We can easily combine
words and embellish our speech to please an audience; the difficult
450 The fax on being an eloquent speaker

thing is to back up our words with virtuous deeds and a noble


character.
Enjoin you A l-Birr [piety and righteousness and each and every aet
of obedience to A llah} on the people and you forget [to practice it}
yourselves, while you recite the Scripture [Torah} I Have you then no
sense? (Qur 'an 2: 44)
A severe punishment awaits a person who orders others to do
good without doing it himself, and who forbids others from evil
while he perpetrates it himself. The dwellers of the Fire who had
known him on earth for his sermons will ask why he is being
punished so painfully. H e himself will answer: "I had ordered you to
do good without doing it myself, and I had forbidden you from evil
while perpetrating it myself. "
An Arab poet said:
"O' you who are a teacher of others,
Would that you had sought first for yourself instruction."
The famous orator Mu'aadh ar-Raazi would cry and make others
cry during his sermons. In one sermon he recited these verses:
"An unrighteous man ordering people to righteousness,
A doctor treating people while he is sick. "
When some of our pious predecessors wanted to exhort others to
give charity, they would first give it themselves. Some of them
related that the people would then voluntarily respond to their call.
I read of an orator from the early centuries of Islam who wanted
to persuade others to free their slaves. H e saved money for a period of
time, and after he had saved enough, he purchased a slave, whom he
immediately freed. In a moving speech, he then exhorted others to do
the same; as a result, many slaves were freed.
Pefect comfort and rest are in Paradise 451

Perfed comfort and rest are in Paradise

Verily, We have created man in toil. (Qur 'an 90: 4)


Imam AD.mad was asked, "When is there rest?" H e answered,
"When you put your foot in Paradise you will find rest."
There is neither rest nor comfort of a lasting nature until one
enters Paradise. This li fe is full of problems, trials, ordeals, sickness,
and worries.
A colleague of mine from Nigeria told me that, when he was a
child, his mother would wake him up during the last third of the night
to pray. He would answer, "Mother, I want to rest a little. " She would
say, "I am only waking you up for your comfort's sake. O' my son,
when you enter Paradise you will find your repose. "
Masrooq, a scholar from the early generations of Islam, would
remain in prostration until sleep overcame him. On one such
occasion, a companion said, "Rest a little. " He answered, "It is rest
that I am seeking . "
Those who seek ease i n this life by abandoning obligatory
prayers are only bringing about a precipitated punishment. The
disbeliever seeks all his comfort here, which i s why he says:
'Our Lord! Hasten to us Qittana [i. e. our Record ofgood and bad
deeds so that we see it} befare the Day of Reckoning!
(Qur 'an 38: 1 6)
Some scholars interpreted Qittana to mean this: "Our share of
good and our share of sustenance befare the Day of Judgment. "
Verily! These [disbelievers] love the present life of this world, and
put behind them a heavy Day [that will be hard}. (Qur 'an 76: 2 7)
They think not of tomorrow or ofthe future, and that is why they
lose them both. We were created to die. This l ife is like a volatile
liquid, always changing: one day it is ease and richness, the next it is
difficulty and poverty.
452 Gentleness helps you achieve your goals

And this is the end :


!Then they are returned to Allah, their Maula [True master (God),
thejust Lord (to re11ard them)]. Surely, His is the judgment and He is
the Swiftest in taking account) (Qur 'an 6: 62)

Gentleness helps you achieve your goals

In previous chapters, I quoted revealed texts to illustrate the


importance of being gentle; here we expand on the same theme by
mentioning some examples. Irnagine yourself driving a car on an
extremely narrow road that is enclosed on either side by a wall. There
is no way for a car to pass except with a great deal of care, gentleness,
and caution. However, if a driver attempted to go through this street
at a high speed, he would constantly crash into the wall on the right,
and then into the one on the left, eventually causing his car to break
down. In both of these instances - that of driving carefully and that
of driving recklessly at a high speed - the street is the same and the
car is the same, but the way of driving is different.
A small plant that we nurture can be watered in different ways. If
you pour water on it slowly, it will absorb the water and find
nourishment in it. But if you pour the water from the jug all at once,
you will only succeed in uprooting it. The quantity of water used is
the same; the difference lies in the method.
Someone who is gentle in handling his clothes, in putting them
on and taking them off can be confident that they will last for a long
while. The one who treats his clothes in an opposite manner always
complains of rips and tears. We need to establish a degree of
gentleness into our lives - gentleness with ourselves:
"Verily, your soul has a right upon you . "
And gentleness with our brothers and wives:
Gentleness helps you achieve your goa/s 453

"Verily, Allah is gentle (and kind) and He loves


gentleness. "
The Turks built many wooden bridges over rivers. At both ends
they would inscribe these words: "Gentleness, Gentleness. " The one
who passes calmly won 't fall, unlike the one who speeds across.
Written upon an entrance to some gardens of roses and flowers
is, "Be Gentle." The one who runs through the garden carelessly will
not succeed in seeing many of the flowers, but to the contrary will
probably wreak havoc to them.
There is a saying that goes:
"The sparrow is not gentle like the bee . "
In a hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"The Believer is like the bee, which eats what is pure,
produces what is pure, and destroys not the tiny branch
when it lands on it."
A flower does not feel the bee as it calmly sucks its nectar, thus
achieving its goal with gentleness. On the contrary, when the sparrow
lands on something, it announces its presence to people.
One of our pious predecessors said:
"A proof of one's understanding of the religion is if he i s
gentle i n entering, exiting, wearing garments, taking off shoes,
and riding a mount. "
You will usually cause harm when you are hurried and rough,
because goodness finds its roots in gentleness. The Messenger o f
Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Whenever gentleness is present in something, that
thing is beautified; when gentleness is removed from
,
something, that thing becomes spoiled . .
The hearts of people are attached to the one who possesses a
gentle nature:
454 Anxiety does not help

And by the Mercy ofA llah, you dealt with them gentv. A nd had you
been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from
about you " ) (Qur 'an 3 : 159)

Anxiety does not help

The point of the foliowing anecdote is to illustrate that one


should not wony excessively, but should instead surrender his will to
the decree of Allah without feeling the slightest degree of regret.
When I was in school I would study diligently to be first among
my classmates. After handing in my examination paper, I would fall
into a state of wony, fear, and anxiety. I would go home, check the
answers from the hook, give myself a grade, and then repeat the
process all over again. It is obvious now, in retrospect, that not once
did my nervousness raise my grades by a single percentage point.

Peace of mind is in having


the basic necessities of life

At a young age I left my family to study in the city of Riyadh. I


stayed with some of my uncles in austere and straitened
circumstances. To reach my school, I had to walk thirty minutes each
moming, and to come back home, thirty minutes in the sweltering
heat of noon. At home, I participated in preparing breakfast, lunch,
and dinner. My duties consisted ofvacuuming the house, cleaning the
kitchen, and organizing the rooms. Furthermore, I worked hard in my
studies and also gave time to participating in school activities. I
always achieved good grades, which spurred me on to work even
harder. I had only one gown in my possession, which I had to wash
and iron constantly. Because of the paltry sum we received as a
stipend, I wore this same garment at home, at school, and on special
Be prepared.for the worst-case sce nario 455

occasions. Bare necessities, such as money for food and rent, took up
most of my money. We were all in a similar condition so it was rare
that we ever ate meat, and even rarer that we ever tasted fruit. All of
us worked hard in our studies. Only once a month did I find the
opportunity to relax or to go out for fun. We studied approximately
seventeen subjects at school, with algebra, math, English and physics
being added to our already tough courses in religion and Arabic
studies. I often borrowed books on Arabic poetry from the school and
would remain engrossed in them for hours at a time.
Now, as I reflect on those days I can remember that, despite all o f
my difficulties, I was happy and slept with a peaceful and calm mind
every night. Later on, with the blessings of A l lah, I bought a nice
home, I ate well, I wore different kinds of clothes, and life in general
took a prosperous tum. But, despite all of this, I do not feel the same
peace of mind now as I did then. More complex problems have
accompanied a more complex kind of life. So don 't think that having
only a little is the cause of your sadness and anxiety, because it is not
true. Most people who have life's bare necessities have a conscience
more sound and an existence more peaceful than the maj ority of rich
people.

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario

In High School I became extremely competitive in achieving top


grades. I n one particular semester I worked so hard that I did not
expect to come any lower than second in the class. What do you think
happened? I ended up failing in English, a subject that I dreaded - I
simply could not make any sense of it. A black cloud of depression
hung over me and for a number of nights that fol lowed, I found it
difficult to sleep. Certain of my classmates even took pleasure in my
failure. What had occurred had been something totally unexpected. I
456 Be preparedfor the 1rvorst-case scenario

became gloomy and sad for the next few days. A teacher noticed the
state I was in and tried his hest to encourage me and give me comfort.
Whenever this time of life comes back to me I am astonished at
how gravely it affected me. The depression into which I fell did not
help in the least, and it had no effect whatsoever in changing my
failing grade into a passing one.
What I want to s ay to you is this: Do not think that ifyou become
depressed or downcast because of failure, you will suddenly achieve
success. It won't happen. The only effect that such gloom can have
upon you is to make your failure more complete.
When I had completed my masters thesis I was hoping to get an
'A' grade. I thought my work was deserving of an 'A,' but in the end I
only got a ' B . ' I overreacted when this happened and I became
extremely agitated over my grade. A sensible friend of mine said to
me, "Suppose, that for one reason or another, you had never
completed your masters degree. What would you have done?
F urthermore, what d ifference does it really make whether you get an
' A' or a 'B' : you still have a Masters degree. " What he said was
obviously true and I retumed to my senses. I now realize that the hest
way of dealing with similar situations is to be prepared in advance for
the worst possible results.
I took away a good lesson from this experience. When the time
came to submit my doctoral thesis, the faculty delayed the date of
submission for a long time. My thesis was already finished and wel l
prepared. Because I was ready for anything, their delaying m e did not
have a great effect on me.
Whoever is mentally prepared for bankruptcy in his business
will not worry over a partial loss.
You are doing well fyou are healthy" . 45 7

You are doing well if you are


healthy and have enough food

In the year 1 400 Hijri, I participated in a campaign to propagate


Islam, close to the border of Yemen. I temporarily left the camp we
were staying in, intending to go with one of my professors to Abha.
On the way back I was upset because he was driving his car at a very
high speed. I pleaded with him to slow down, but it seemed that this
only had the effect of goading him on to go faster. It was raining that
night, yet he continued to drive recklessly. We ended up in a valley
that was filling with water. At first the water reached a level only
slightly above our tires. As we reached the middle of the valley,
though, the situation got worse as water started to flow into our
vehicle. We left the car and with much difficulty we managed to
reach the edge of the valley. We were stuck there all night without
food, drink, and more importantly, because we were wet, without
blankets. We were contented and thankful for our situation though,
because when the flood had overwhelmed us we had expected to die.
And so we were thankful just to be alive. In the early moming
somebody came and took us to safety. I am reminded by this incident
of a story that took place in World War II. An American ship was hit
by a missile and as a result began to sink. The captain was stranded
for thirteen days with only water and bread to nourish him. He was
later asked whether there was a moral that he took away with him
from his experience. He said, "Something important that I took away
with me from this experience is that if a person is healthy and has
bread and water, he has the whole world with him. "
What is this world other than a healthy body, peace o f mind,
bread, water, and a garment to wear? Why don 't you and I use math
to calculate what we have and what we don 't have? I think that most
of us will find that we have more than 80o/o of the things that make
458 Ext inguish t !te.fire of enmity befare it spreads

life comfortable. Needless to say there are exceptional cases when


one is deprived of irnportant necessities, but for the most part, we
weep over comforts that are missing without laughing and being
thankful for those that we do have. We are sorrowful when aftlicted,
and ungrateful when all is well.

Extinguish the fire of enmity before it spreads

Throughout my life, I found that whenever I defended myself


against defamatory comments, loss and regret were the main results.
At first I would think it wise that I should set things straight when
some person criticized me, regardless of whether the criticism was
verbal or written. In the end, however, I found the opposite to be true.
B y defending mysel f, more enmity resulted, and instead of the
restoration of good ties between my critic and myself, he would
attempt to malign me even further. Eventually I would wish that I had
never confronted him in the first place. I t would have been herter to
forgive, forbear, sho\\' patience, tum away, and ignore the defamatory
remarks. After all, this is what the Qur'an teaches us:
Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the
foolish [i. e. don 't pun ish them}. (Qur 'an 7: 1 99)
Let them pardon and forgive) (Qur 'an 24: 22)
fThose who repress a nger, and who pardon men . . ) (Qur 'an 3: 134)
And when they are angry, they forgive) (Qur 'an 42: 3 7)
And when thefoolish address them [with bad wordsj they rep(v back
with m ild words of gentleness. (Qur 'an 25: 63)
Repel [the evil} with ane which is hetter [i.e. Allah ordered the
faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse
those who treat them badly}, then verily! He, between whom and you
there was enmity, [will hecome} as though he was a close friend.
(Qur 'an 41: 34)
Don 't helittle another person 's ef
forts 459

Therefore, if you hear malicious words from someone, do not


answer back: it will only result in multiplying one attack into ten.

Don 't belittle another person 's e.fforls

Life has taught me to put into practice something that has never
failed me: to moderately express my approval of others. This policy
always has a positive effect on all sorts of people. Soft and gentle
words work wonders on the hearts of people; our religion teaches us
to be generous and kind in dealings:
And by the Mercy ofA llah, you dealt with them gently. And had you
been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from
about you . P
. . (Qur 'an 3: 159)
The author of the book How to Win Friends states that an
important factor in attracting people to you is to praise and
compliment them inordinately. I do not agree: moderation and j ustice
are called for:
Indeed A llah has set a measure for all things) (Qur 'an 65: 3)
Therefore one should neither flatter others artificially nor be dry
and distant with them.
Sure, we could take the path of looking down upon people with
supercilious airs; but as a result, it is we who will lose our friends -
and not they who will lose us. Ifyou are not friendly, people will soon
find someone else to make acquaintance with.
And be kind and humble to the believers who jollow you.
(Qur 'an 2 6: 2 1 5)
Eaming the respect of others also contributes to bringing you
happiness. Muslims are Allah 's witnesses on earth and they pray for
each other's forgiveness.
. . . and speak good to people" . (Qur 'an 2: 83)
460 Don 't belittle another person 's ef
forts

In life, I have been especially impressed by those who are


charismatic in their dealings - those who seem to attract others
magnetically by their good character. They always wear a smile for
others, they have honest tongues, and their hearts are free from
j ealousy and rancor.
With the permission of Allah, it is within the reach of every one
of us to achieve acceptance among the people of the earth. This
acceptance is not bought with treasures or wealth, but it is eamed
through sincerity towards Allah, truthfulness, the love of Allah and
His M essenger (bpuh ), a love for spreading good to others, and a
lowly opinion of one's own self.
To achieve these and other good qualities, we must make an
honest effort, because they require an upward climb. Evil
characteristics are easily achieved for whoever wants them, for they
demand only a downward descent.
A n Arab poet said:
"The evil character soon ceases to feel his wickedness,
A bodily injury causes no pain for the dead. "
The person who is self-absorbed is likely to feel inferior and
melancholic on the i nside. And there are some people who think
more high ly of themselves than they should. A few examples of such
people come to mind, people who made some efforts to contribute to
society, later feeling that their work deserved a lifetime's
achievement award.
One student I knew wrote a few small booklets that were
targeted at young Muslims. I wanted to encourage him, so I
complimented him on his efforts. Then, he began to talk endlessly
about the booklets, about how widely they were distributed, and
about how much acc laim they had received. I was amazed at this
person 's vision of hin1self, but I also leamed from him how people
hate to be overlooked or put down.
Don 't helittle another person 's e.fforts 46 1

On another occasion, I heard a taped lecture of a student. I


invited him to my home, intending to encourage him to continue his
efforts in seeking knowledge of Islam. When I mentioned the tape, he
found his opportunity. He began by invoking Allah to benefit the
entire Muslim nation through his lecture. H e then continued to
expound on how he had researched the topic. Before calling him, I
had never expected him to be so self-centered. My conversation with
him also made me realize that it is in human nature to give more
worth to one's own selfthan it deserves. Therefore be wary of putting
somebody down:
Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are
better than theformer; nor let [same} women scoffat o